Day eight of a ten-day writing retreat,
and outside our cabins at the mountain’s peak—
despite hills and ravines, trees coppered
by October’s cold—my sister and I hear muffled music
from the conference center a crow’s fly mile below,
a fall fair that draws hundreds to buy handmade quilts,
pottery, carved wooden bowls, to gorge on apple fritters
and sausage sandwiches.
My sister both wants and doesn’t want to go to the fair,
and I want to please her but don’t want to sacrifice
the peace of this time spent out of the world,
so instead we talk about wanting and not wanting,
how we often feel split into pieces
like panes of window glass, craving one thing
and another until we’re nine pieces of crazy.
She goes back to her cabin for lunch
and we both promise to work, though I know
we’ll stare out our windows, watching the silver light
sift through falling leaves until four o’clock
when the fair ends. Then tonight over soup in my cabin,
I’ll say, Did you write? and she’ll say, No, did you?
I’ll answer, No, nothing good, anyway,
and we’ll agree that part of us wishes we’d gone.
by Pam Baggett
Editor’s Note: This poem’s description of the writing process is completely accurate (part wishes, part hard work, and part opportunity—flavored with a bit of procrastinatory guilt).