When you come across a creative idea

On a train, in a café, you may come across a creative idea as one does a scenic lookout. How should you treat this idea? Commit it to the final draft of your poem?

Imagine a narrow path through scrubland suddenly opens up into a visual cliché, a panorama. Framed by low railings. A genuine hands-in-your-pocket viewpoint. Tourists arriving have already got their cameras out; probably thinking, do they have enough pixels to capture this “Grand Canyon” view well? But not you.

You wait. You commit to this place with much greater patience. You know such investment will reward you. What lies before you may be blocking out other thoughts or ideas.

When once I walked to the lip of one of the lookouts over USA’s Grand Canyon, on approach I closed my eyes (well, I knew there was a barrier fence). I felt the view before me, listened to the void – then at the railings finally opened my eyes. Clouds scudded over an immensity no human can really comprehend: either in space or in the geological time represented. But opening your senses to other perspectives takes time. Hours. I even returned the following dawn and watched for several hours as the dark abyss burgeoned with sunlight filling its stone world. I watched ants crawl across the sandy ground at my feet; looked at the plants growing beside a track; listened to distant feral calls. I imagined an aerial perspective. And looked back on myself. I held off from taking any photographs or from writing any response until the right one appeared. Because, above all, I wanted to avoid cliché.

[Copyright 2019 Clifford Liles]


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