On the Matter of Line Breaks

So many snowy winters ago, settled in a loft balcony in the mountains of Vermont, I was concerned about where to end a line and when to pause, when to breathe, when to elongate a syllable.

Twice a year, I gathered with others who cared about the way words fell from the branches of overhung trees and learned the meaning of vegan. In the fall, we hiked along trails of damp leaves in the quiet of the dawn, invigorated as blood coursed through our veins like coffee in the awakening.

I remember cows on hillsides and verdant fields color-lit by changing leaves.

Break the lines where the breath lends itself, they said. Break the lines where the punctuation falls, they said. Break the line where the line break creates an interest in the following line.

Break the line even where it creates an ambiguity that enhances the original intent of the poem.

It’s 8:21 a.m. on a snowy Wednesday. Before I even awoke, my driveway was cleared in the quiet. I took the garbage to the curb and brought the newspapers inside. The house is clean. The house is quiet.

Let’s look at the upside of this down economy: in Royal Oak on Monday, I bought skinny jeans, a winter-white ballet wrap sweater that is oh-so-sexy and a satin sleeveless shirt to wear to Mega 80s this weekend for $100. Gas has fallen to a dollar and a half a gallon. I think before buying more chicken since there’s some in the freezer.

Outside my office window, snow weighs down the branches of my neighbor’s tree. It is winter so we don’t see each other much these days, listed inside as we are in the safe harbor of a heated house.

I can dream endless dreams, yearn to travel, reminisce with myself over my days in Portland hiking, living, loving the quiet. The economy may be challenged and jobs falling at a rapid pace – but I am breathing in a blue room, the mother of three exceptional children, a refrigerator full of grape leaves and hummus and rich coffee.

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