This is the story of how Megan got her poetry wand back.
From Labor Day of 2013 to Memorial Day of 2014, approximately one school year, I spent every night with a bloke named Harry Potter. I listened to one chapter a night from all seven audiobooks, starting with “The Sorcerer’s Stone” and going through “The Deathly Hallows.”
I hadn’t been sleeping well for far too long, and I needed something to listen to — a bedtime story, if you will. I’d already read the books and seen the movies, so I was familiar with the story. I knew, more or less, which chapters were likely to keep me awake. British actor Jim Dale reads the books and does all the voices. It’s stunning.
You might think listening to Harry Potter every night would interrupt my dreams. It did. That was the whole point — better dreams. Yes, I’m 43 years old, and I still have nightmares.
The way the file was set up, my phone interpreted each chapter as a song, so every night I set my player to “repeat song.” Most of the chapters were 30-45 minutes long, and I usually fell asleep before they finished. You might think that endlessly repeating a chapter would get annoying, but at whatever point I did get annoyed, I just turned it off. Then when I woke up at, say, 3:18 in the morning, as happened far too often, I’d hit “play” again and pick up where I left off.
To purchase the audiobooks I spent about $250, which wasn’t nothing, but surely was less than the cost of nine months of sleeping pills. Plus they had a much better side effect: I think they awakened my poetry.
There is a scene at the end of “Deathly Hallows” that’s not in the movie. Once Voldemort is dead and Harry finds himself in possession of the Elder Wand, he doesn’t want it, since it caused so much death and devastation through the centuries. But before he locks it up safely where no one can ever use it again, he uses it to repair his own wand — holly, 11 inches, with a phoenix feather core. After Hermione accidentally broke his wand while saving their lives, he carried around the pieces of his wand, hoping there was some way to repair them.
The wand chooses the wizard — every Harry Potter fan knows that. Harry wanted the wand that chose him in Olivander’s shop, the one that worked better for him than any other. His wand.
It feels like poetry chose me. I never set out to be a poet or to even to like poetry. It was just there, waiting for me. And like Harry’s wand, it did get broken, accidentally, and a life was saved.
It’s taken nine months of listening to a long fairy tale with a complicated plot and unforgettable characters to repair my wand. I’m not sure why it worked, although the idea of Platform 9 3/4 is fertile ground for poetry. The idea that regular things, like boarding school and celebrity authors and even prejudice can be rendered imaginatively — pure poetry compost.
Toward the end of listening to “Deathly Hallows,” I went to the grocery store and bought a new 6-by-9 inch spiral notebook, the same size a friend of mine uses to write her poetry. I also bought a new package of Sharpwriter No. 2 pencils, the ones my friend swears are the best. That’s all I need to make a little magic.
Then I started writing in the notebook with the pencil. I started noticing things again, seeing if any poems jumped out of their chairs and waved their arms at me. They did.
So, Harry (and really, J.K. Rowling), I don’t know how you did it. I don’t know why it took nine months. All I know is I got my wand back. And it’s casting spells again.