It happens over and over again.
I write something – a song or a poem – about how I’d like something to be. The entire time I’m making it, I hear my inner critic hissing its usual transmission of doom. The general gist of those vile mutterings are variations on “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Years pass. I revisit the song or poem from time to time. Then one day I realize that the prophecy that seemed so far-fetched back then has come to pass. What I foretold in my creation has become real.
Here’s as example. Years ago, I wrote a cheeky song called “Britches.” It has its origins in the statement I heard again and again as a child whenever I was asserting my prodigious will: “You’re getting too big for your britches.” (These words are particularly ironic when I consider how quickly I outgrew my pants in those days. I’ve always been taller than the clothes designers think possible. I was one of those girls in the 70’s who was adding length to her too-short jeans by sewing a few inches of calico around the bottom.)
I started the song with these lines: “I’m getting too big for my britches; I guess I’ll just have to go nude.” From there I made bold assertions about standing tall, walking proud and tooting my own horn. None of which I believed at the time.
These days when I sing the song, it rings true. I’ve grown into the parameters set out by the song.
Around this same time in my life, I wrote a poem about my voice. At the time, I was just starting out on my vocal journey and was terrified of singing in front of anyone. I could imagine how it would feel to sing freely, but hadn’t a clue about how to find my way there.
My voice is streams of silk
flying from my mouth–catching the light.
A potent tonic brewed in the cauldron of my belly
with generous doses of all I’ve known to spike the potion.
I pour it out with love to those who would drink deep.
My voice is a bird–a phoenix
rising from ash to incandescence
with fine plumage:
orange, scarlet, iridescent
stretching its wings after long captivity.
Short flights grow longer and god-I-hope higher.
If I sing that soaring high note the top of my head
just might blow off!
So—what have I to offer?
Nothing—but the voice of a goddess
comin’ down from the sky
with feathers in her hair and a twinkle in her eye.
Just a touch of her fine hand
gave me the chance to understand
that her voice and mine are truly one
And that I was given this song
in love and fun.
© Barbara McAfee
Nowadays this is exactly how it feels to sing. My voice has become “streams of silk flying out of my mouth.”
Not every single thing I write comes true. Or at least they haven’t yet. Just in case, I’ll keep creating songs and poems that call forth the kind of person I most aspire to be…and the kind of world in which everyone’s most cherished dreams can come true.