The printer scrapes it out: my poem.
I gingerly pick up the paper between fingers, shy of my own words. There is so much space on this page. My poetry teacher commanded it; specified the margin size and font size, demanded three whole gasping spaces between title and text.
So much space. I feel prodigal….wasteful.
My family has always scrimped. Made words fit, you know? Widen the margins, shrink the type. We’ve lived places where ink is imported from across a border and space is the white lamb, sacrificed.
I look again at my page.
Psychological, my teacher said. Learn to present your poetry on the page to psychologically affect your readers. Yeah, and I’m just about psyching myself out. What am I doing, making words so brazen bold? They hold centre stage on an empty page. Could they be the same words that I scribbled onto raggedy corners and backs of envelopes?
Long have I squished.
Could I dare this, to let words fly? I remember an abiding childhood dream; to be as free as the hawks, black against stormy Arua skies, to have space that wide, to let wind take me where it would. To be free.
Why is it so hard to set my words free on this page?
Because they aren’t worth the space, something whispers.
Poetry is about white space as much as it is about words, my teacher said. I struggle with that. I’ve got lots of words. It’s space that I miss.
How do you find that daring, to create a world but leave half unsaid – to let someone else fill in the lines you’ve drawn – harder yet, to let someone draw the lines to your colour – to extend freedom to the reader?
But… isn’t this why I chose to take a poetry class? To be forced beyond rules, to live a bit more suspended, to set vision free?
I need a bit more of this in my life: a bit more space. It’s heady stuff, realms of unsown possibility, room to rest and to run wild. It’s whiteness too much. I can never fill it all with paint or words or ideas.
I was fifteen when I first experienced lavish as more than a word. At that time, I only knew soap as a purely functional item. Then, a guest left a bar for us. As I ran my hands over it, my hands filled with bubbles and rich fragrance. I had never seen any soap like it! It was a true epiphany moment, a holy moment. There in that bucket bath, I finally understood the idea of God lavishing steadfast love on us (Ephesians 1).
God’s lavishness still abounds. I think of my awe at palms soaped white at age 15, and my astonishment at space stretched white today. God’s canvas will never end. Not in my life; not among the nations; not for all eternity. It is wide and broad, and all people are welcome to His abundance of space. Even little ones, like me, are free to put our chicken-scratch finger prints there. Not in a corner, or hidden behind someone else’s masterpiece. He gives us space. The space is our mark of dignity and belonging: king’s children let their imaginations search for every corner of the skies.
There is always room, friends. Room to soar. Don’t hold back.