Every morning when I get to work, I make a to-do list for the day. I have one for the week, and one for the semester/summer. I have a personal one on my iPod. I email myself things to do, write them down, and think about them on the bus and when I'm going to sleep. And Molly Peacock wrote a poem about this process that I wish I'd written. It captures both the anxiety and reassurance of having, and coming up with, things to do on both the smallest and largest of scales - a distinctly adult feeling, I think.
I got her book Raw Heaven last night, at the money pit that is Harvard Bookstore's extensive and wonderfully organized used section. I know the poetry section well enough to know that a lot of the books were new additions, and this was one of them. Anyway, on the last day of National Poetry Month, here's the poem for you.
Things to Do
Planning and worrying and waking up
in the morning with items on the list
clanking like quarters in the brain's tin cup,
this and that and what you might have missed
or who pissed you off, suspends you in a state
that wishes and hopes for its goal like some
little one wiggling in a chair who can't wait
for when her legs will reach the floor. The numb
knockings of anxiety are like the heels
of sturdy little shoes steadily beating
on upholstery. It's how anyone feels
having been put into a chair, meeting
responsibilities from a padded perch
too big for anyone's ass. As monarchs
we make ourselves small and govern in search
of what we'll grow into. Except we are
as big as we'll ever get and have gone as far.
From Raw Heaven by Molly Peacock. New York: Vintage Books, 1984. (p. 18)
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