A few weeks ago I gave my first poetry reading at The Bookworm in Omaha. The New Voices Reading Series is co-sponsored by my university (Creighton) and the University of Nebraska Omaha. I was one of four readers, two in fiction and two in poetry. It was a very positive learning experience. For sure I discovered that as much as I like writing poetry, I probably like reading it even more.
My professor gave me the best advice, and I think it could apply to our lives in general. After giving me a little tutorial on how to arrange my poems and how to practice for the reading she said, “Just be sure to read your own poems in the same way you read someone else’s.” What she meant was that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to read my own poems out loud with passion and energy, the way I read, for example, Elizabeth Bishop’s “An Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore.”
I love nothing more than to throw myself into the out loud reading of a really great poem. But she was right that when I read my own poems in workshop I don’t do it with the same kind of confidence. Making that one switch in my brain is one of the reasons I felt like my first reading was successful. No one wanted to feel me apologizing. They came to hear some poems. So I read them some. And it was really fun.
Claire had a tendon lengthening surgery on Friday. The goal of the surgery is to release some of the tightness in her left leg (an effect of cerebral palsy) so she can have better balance and mobility. We’re very excited about that prospect. We’re not as excited about four weeks in a hip-to-toe cast.
So far Claire is, per her feisty usual, recovering well. She’s already putting weight on the leg and tooling around with a walker and in a wheelchair. It’s just the logistics of a cast that big that is tough. Going to the bathroom, for example, is an unbelievably complicated task fraught with many dangers.
We’re also still working to manage pain and comfort levels. She’s got a pretty high pain tolerance but she’s also used to sleeping on her tummy, something that seems nearly impossible in this monstrosity. So we use pillows and stuffed animals and try to make it work.
The first two nights I felt like I had a newborn again (something I’m obviously too old to try because it made me ridiculously emotional). I went to bed dreading how soon I’d be awakened by Ada to tell me Claire had to go to the bathroom. Just like the good old days. But then yesterday Dan let me have an uninterrupted nap and last night Claire slept all night without pain meds or getting up to pee. So this morning I think we’re going to make it.
We still have to figure out the logistics of school. Luckily, Grandma Cheri is one of her teachers and can help with the technical work of the restroom. And Claire has been practicing her wheelchair moves. One big plus of all of this is the extra weight-bearing and exercise her left hand is getting with the walker and the wheelchair. That’s one thing she probably wouldn’t have done on her own and it should really help the weakness in her left arm because it’s forced to be a strong link instead of a weak one.
So that’s where we are, friends: hanging in there! Thankful for an opportunity to see Claire get stronger even if in the meantime we’re forced to stay a little closer to home and depend on each other a little more than normal. All good things.