On Shabbat afternoon, my nine-year-old daughter entertained herself by pulling my high school yearbooks off the shelf and perusing through them.
This is the type of thing I used to do: go through old class pictures, autograph books, yearbooks, checking out the past or trying to recreate it in my mind.
I was in the kitchen and my daughter kept yelling out to me, "Listen to this, Eema." And she proceeded to read some poem...that I'd written. And then another poem. And another.
As I listened to the poems, I couldn't help but think, "I wrote THAT?" But then I realized that I had, and I even remembered the circumstances around writing a particular poem. Many of them had the same themes: unrequited love/invisibility/trying too hard. Such is the world of teenage angst. Such was the world of my poetry.
My daughter was clearly fascinated by the fact that my name and poems appeared several times in these yearbooks. She also wondered why I didn't appear in photos of clubs or school bands or random people-in-the-hallway photos. I guess I was too busy writing poetry, I told her. That was my "thing." I wasn't involved in much else, I explained.
I remember many times sending my poems off to Seventeen magazine or Teen magazine from a very young age. Hey, I thought, they'll publish this. Of course everyone can relate to this/that poem. I'm the spokesperson for others like me, the ones Janis Ian sang about in "At Seventeen" -- the non-popular, nice ones.
Did my name appear in these nationwide magazines? Nah... I had to wait a few years more to start publishing outside of school yearbooks -- Holocaust poetry, Jewish-themed poetry primarily. I guess I'd "graduated" from those teen identity poems. Yet I still wrote about what I knew.
Every now and again, I pull out my "poetry books" -- blank journals and business ledgers whose pages I covered in ink and words from the heart. Every now and again, I pull out tear sheets that offer my published words and my name. Every now and again, I go through my posts from this 2 1/2 year-old blog.
And so many times, while looking at so many words, I think to myself or even aloud, "I wrote THAT?!"