It is hard to predict why some Aprils work and others don’t. One of my best years for the April Poetry Challenge was the year my mother died, although I did not know that then. What I did know was that she was taking almost as many hours as my job, even in a care facility. I didn’t grudge that time, but there were times I had to say no, like the time I was in heavy grading mode and there was a flood between me and her. She wanted me to come right away because the nurse would not come and get down a fresh pack of Depends from over the closet, saying that she had plenty. She was very upset when I tried to tell her it’s more than just raining–the road is closed and people are supposed to stay at home. I promised to call the desk for her and did, something that made me look like a fool but was somewhat less foolish than the runs to the facility when her hallucinations (from congestive heart failure, something no one warns you about) made her seek her own justice.
That April was possibly the best challenge ever. I did it because I was offering it as an extra credit exercise for my poetry class and thought it was only fair to do it along with those students who took up the challenge. I had different levels of credit for finishing part of the way and several students did that, but I finished that time against the worst possible odds. Poems from those drafts went on to be published in several journals, and at this point most of them are published.
Other times the mantra “I just can’t” gets in the way or I try something different that blows up. This time it was unforeseen circumstances. I had injections for the osteoarthritis in my knees, injections that essentially replace the cushion between bone and bone that no longer exists. This time I had an allergic reaction, making my legs swell enough that I could not walk. The doctor drained the worst knee and gave me a cortisone shot, but it also meant ice packs and elevation flat on my back for the rest of the week. I have no TV in my bedroom. I can’t write or grade papers in that position. I couldn’t walk unless you count lurching from wall to furniture. short distances only. So, that meant the end of daily poems for the month, but I did have half a month of good ones and am writing again now. I think I’m going to call it a success.