Irish poet Rita Ann Higgins has a poem called “Poetry Doesn’t Pay.” I began the decade living for poetry. I end the 2000s with one half remembered line and a focus on payment rather than poetics.
I’m still working on imagining my way out of my day job and into being an at home mom. Oh what a passel of worries (“gremlins” as Magpie Girl calls them) have been stirred up as I imagine stepping into the void that is life without guaranteed salary and benefits! One of the more bizarre worries that has emerged is how I’ll find spiritual nourishment in this new venture.
The role of spirituality in my life is not a bizarre concern, of course, but it’s generally considered rather superfluous to one’s career choices. My current job certainly does not have a spiritual dimension. Why would I expect the new home business I hope to pull together to have any direct connection to the way I talk to God?
I am coming to realize all the pressure I am putting on myself, on how I expect that earning money in a new way will change everything that motherhood has not already rearranged. As much as I have liked the general direction of my life, Moira’s birth began the seismic quake I was waiting for. Now I am looking for everything to shift; I am impatient for all of the random puzzle pieces of me to fall into place.
Some who know me in the “real world” might laugh to hear this, but my ideal job would be to be a priest. There are several impediments, of course, seeing that I am female, and even if I could become an Episcopalian or something, I still cannot commit to Christianity solely enough to convince a congregation of my piety. Since I don’t think I am quite ready to start holding revivals in my backyard and no established religions will have me (or I won’t have them…), it seems that prayer isn’t going to bring in a paycheck. At least not directly…
I am overwhelmed by the weight of my dreams, my burdensome need for poetry and and a life that is purely mine from waking ’til sleep. The love of my child, my husband, my home is a crippling curse and an incessant blessing and the only thing that matters at the end of the day. This love is the stuff my prayers are made of.
May this love be strong enough.
May I be strong enough.
you can’t pay me in poems or prayers,
or your husband’s jokes,
or with photographs of your children
in lucky lemon sweaters hand made by your dead Great Aunt
who had amnesia and the croup
Rita Ann Higgins, “Poetry Doesn’t Pay”