In a dream near the end of last year, I was walking through long hallways in a dorm-like building with art and writing tacked to the walls between the many doors. Sometimes people were in the halls with me and sometimes I walked alone. As I walked I said "thank you" aloud to the poets and artists by name and when I said "thank you, Bernadette" I realized that Bernadette Mayer had been walking beside me. She died shortly before I dreamed this, and even my dream-self felt the loss. When I read this kind appreciation of Mayer's life's work recently I recalled this and was glad she walked with me in that dream-space; I never saw her IRL.
Lately I've been facing some despair and loneliness, winter-related and otherwise. Writing has felt unattainable. But I still note down my dreams when I remember them, and I still keep a tiny journal (possibly subconsciously inspired by Mayer's journal suggestion for "beautiful and/or ugly sights") of one lovely thing I saw each day. And I still carry around scraps of language as little talismans in my mind even when I feel wholly detached from my ability to assemble words in any pleasing or useful way.
The title "The Way to Keep Going in Antarctica" is one scrap I carry around lately, thinking of the poem in conversation with other poem-talismans I've held. Its command "Do not be afraid of your own heart beating" is a second-person version of Alice Notley's "May I never be afraid / especially of myself," which I've had embedded firmly in my memory for most of a decade. And the last line brings in suffering, and suffering in a poem always brings to my mind Auden's Old Masters (and my college-aged self wrestling with a close reading of that poem in a basement computer lab). But the end of "The Way to Keep Going..." with its many "if"s is all about possibility: a hard thing to grasp, slippery as ice. Which is all to say: good poem, good ending, good poet to walk a dream's hallway with while I try and fail and try again to find wherever it is I want poetry to take me.
I hope you're taking good care out there, I hope we all keep going.
PS: here's a little zine I made with someone I love! It's about our feelings and enthusiasms and experiences, it's called EXTREMELY GAY FOR THE MOON AND THE LAKE, and I have a few copies left now.