“I will not let thee go except thou send me”

Jacob Wrestles the Angel, from wikimedia

Jacob Wrestles the Angel, from wikimedia

Reader, it’s a February slog. Well, it’s a January slog that has bled into February. I’m showing up at my desk, but nothing’s coming easily. I’m reading, studying, writing. Sticking it down, not reeling it off. Looking sideways at a big stack of my poems, trying to ignore them. Feeling kind of sick of them — ugh, so many poems! Knowing I should send some out, turning away, sticking my head in the sand. “Leave me alone!” — I’ve said it out loud many times these last weeks.

But yesterday, the poems would be ignored no longer. A line ran through my head: “I will not let the go except thou send me.”

Do you know the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling the angel? Some translators have it “angel,” others, “man.” Some believe it was a manifestation of the divine that Jacob wrestled with at Peniel. The thing is this: Jacob wrestled all night with neither he nor the angel prevailing. At dawn, the angel said, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” Jacob replied, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.”

Whether I’m Jacob or the angel/man/(certainly *not* a manifestation of the divine), I know these poems won’t let me go unless I send them out (or most of them). So yesterday I pulled out the pile and began making mini-piles, packets of 5 poems, mini-manuscripts. I walked my kitchen placing poems together intuitively, until I had 12 packets lining the counter. I made another stack for “poems too new to send out” and yet another for “poems I’m so sick of I might abandon them forever even if they’re good.”

As if I needed evidence, I checked in with Duotrope, where I learned that, at this moment, I have only 11 poems out there in the world, with only 2 journals. A confirmation that It’s Time. This week I’ll polish poems and packets and revisit my list of target journals. Perhaps I’ll finally get into the cottage industry mode of submissions I aspire to. But if not, I at least need to get back to doing some submissions every week.

And, because poetry so often bleeds into life, I thought about other things that will not let me go except I bless them: overdue thank you notes, plans for our Summer-2013-Griswoldian-Cross-Country-In-the-Car-Lord-Have-Mercy-Upon-Us vacation, boxes still unpacked in the garage, last year’s school art work to pitch (ahem) sort through.

It’s not good to be held captive by things one hasn’t done. Wish me luck as I start doing, sending, writing, planning, sorting, blessing, a little bit at a time.

10 thoughts on ““I will not let thee go except thou send me”

  1. Sounds like a tremendously productive day, Molly. Congratulate yourself on that fantastic accomplishment of assembling twelve poem-packets!

    • Todd, thanks for this. I often forget to give myself credit for the leg work of submissions. Too much focus on “I must get these poems out!” and not enough on, “I took a big step forward today.”

  2. Why aren’t we neighbors??? Seriously. A good glass of red and 2 hours at each other’s houses would be amazing for both of us. That being said, we are getting 10 inches of snow tonight… and you’re not.

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