There was a good turnout at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum for Artifactory on Sunday, and not EVERY attendee was related to one of the participants. (Not that poets don’t appreciate family support—I’m very grateful that my husband and in-laws were there!)
There were 16 poems, which were printed in this nice little booklet:
Most of the poems were directly related to Kalamazoo-area locations, businesses, or products. A few were specifically about other places: the 20th century African-American resort community of Idlewild in northern Michigan, a wind farm near Ludington, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York. In fact, every poem except mine was about something specific: a place or thing, an event, a personal memory. Mine was entirely generic—about love—and almost entirely unhistoric, save for a couple of facts about bicycles.
Museum curator Tom Dietz commented that in some cases finding something Kalamazoo-related in a poem was quite challenging, but he was creative in finding connections, sometimes quite unexpected ones.
For example, one poem mentioned a Gibson guitar, which apparently has been discussed so many times at Artifactory and other museum programs that Dietz chose instead to take a street name from the poem to talk about Pearl Street in Kalamazoo. For my poem, he showed a slide of a high-wheeler that had been donated to the museum but mostly discussed the donor’s book collection and his job as a railroad telegraph operator.
The poem about Idlewild referred to 8 Mile Road in Detroit, which Dietz told us follows the Michigan Baseline (as does Baseline Road in Kalamazoo County), which is the principle east-west line used in the land survey of the entire state. I’m not sure my explanation is precisely correct (don’t quote me), but I thought this was a very interesting fact!
And now for the poem:
Falling in Love is Like Falling off a Bicycle…. No, Easier
Momentum is not necessary, most people fall in love
from a stationary position, not while hurtling down hill.
It’s both scary and thrilling. You may lose your breath,
but it doesn’t hurt, at least not right away. There are no bruises,
no gravel in your knees, no shins scraped on pedals.
You don’t have to be on love or over it or around it to fall in it.
You can even fall in love when you are already in love.
Love is everywhere, like the ground.
It’s inevitable; we’re hard-wired for it. People have been falling
off bicycles for less than 200 years, but they have been falling
in love for all of human history. Our existence is proof.
But if by “easier” we mean “to survive,”
that’s a whole other matter. The dangers are different.
Wearing a helmet may actually make it harder to fall in love.
With the evolution from high wheelers to safety bicycles
to recumbents, the risk of bicycle falls has plummeted,
and except for severe cases, most people fully recover
within a couple of weeks. When you fall in love,
your condition is less likely to improve over time.
Knowing this will not help you. You don’t have the instinct
to grip the handlebars, to break your fall. You’ll be only too
willing to lose your balance. Nothing will stop you from falling
over and over and over again.