Why I Can't Write
– after Anne Barngrover
‘Because’ is not an answer, my daughter would say.
Because the black-capped chickadee’s high/low two note call
pierces the grey morning.
Because the rush of wind outside the window
keeps me sleepy.
Because I am reviewing the days-ago conversation with the black barista at Starbucks–
was my slight impatience perceived as a microaggression?
did I attribute his annoyance to his skin color?
or was I afraid I was going to?
is this just Pure-O messing with me?
Because I am panicking about the campaign texts I need to send later today:
Hi, Sharonda, it’s Frank, a volunteer with the Daniel Biss campaign. Do you know who
you’re supporting in the upcoming election?
Because on the maroon couch, under a matching blanket,
everything seems less…
and I could lie there staring at the perfect white ceiling
Because I recently told my therapist I thought I’d be really good at convalescing.
(because that’s a lie)
Because, walking past a construction site,
the smell of cut lumber
brings me back to childhood with a Proustian rush.
Because “Proustian Rush” is an old Woody Allen joke
and repeating it, even to myself, feels dirty.
Because the windows only look out on a faux streetfront
from this downtown Starbucks.
Because there it is again – what is this? Corporate-sponsored poetry?
I can’t look at it squarely anymore, if ever.
Because there are collective-action problems
and writing is an individual-action problem.
Because on the walk to the office the homeless will accost me again,
and I will cross the street this time
to avoid the men
huddled near the heating vent
along the outside wall of CVS.
Because I feel guilty writing this.
Frank Hill lives, photographs, and writes in Evanston, Illinois.