Jen F.’s post about the “Secret Handshake” of art (I love that phrase) has inspired me to be brave and throw out a couple of my poems to the world.
Honestly, it didn’t make me think of either of these, but the third poem I wrote in this class (the one I did think of) needs revising before I will bring it into the light– though now that I’m thinking of it again, it probably will.
I was forced to write four poems (of different styles/content) as a part of a creative-writing class I took while pregnant with Melody. I will not protest to anyone that I am a poet, but the images of these (and the third if I can revise it) worked in this format like they never would have in my normal language of story or essay.
One of them apparently did come out as an essay, despite my best intentions to meet the teacher’s expectation of a “Prose poem” (go figure), but these were more acceptable to him and I’ll preface them with my teacher’s comments.
No great reason for this other than it seems to legitimize them somehow.
From his response to my 47-page portfolio of the semester’s stronger work (he himself is a poet, so I hope it doesn’t minimize the prose too much that he liked the poems best):
Two of my favorite pieces in the collection happen to be the poems.
They stand up awfully well, I think, with “My First Love” quite nicely capturing spiritual joy— which typically leads to poems that are terribly corny.
Yours isn’t, and the genuine delight apparent in the language and imagery take us, whatever we believe, to a fine place.
“Thoughts While Cleaning…” is considerably more somber, of course, but the arrangement of details is quite smart, and the nature of those details brings us close to the horrors of what happened— even as the way those details are viewed is meant to find distance from those same horrors.
My First Love
I always thought of the quiet breeze
as God playing with my hair,
and the soft raindrops were his kisses.
I’d turn my face into the wind
my hair curl behind me.
The warm breath
fit my face
like a strapless dress
that magically stays on.
as the rain began to fall,
I’d turn my face up to taste it.
Gentle touches over my throat
I would begin to dance–
in my young way–
spinning about and lifting
my arms to welcome the divine
~ ~ ~
Thoughts While Cleaning a Neighbor’s Living Room
What do I use to scrub brains
off a textured surface—
off a matte-painted wall?
Who do I call
to learn how to clean fresh blood
and bone fragments
from a dense, light-colored carpet? Is it better
to let it all dry first?
Thank God the piano lid was closed. But now
its wood is furrowed, and the old stain wounded
where the fresh was scraped off.
These gloves are too weak–
They can be broken through.
They are too thin.
I feel too much.
~ ~ ~
Kinda gruesome, I know. Sorry.
It came out of realizing the compassion of a group of neighbors who converged on the house where a 14-year-old had shot himself.
I felt an emotion I cannot yet describe when I realized these people had stepped in so that the parents would not have to themselves clean up the mess that had been their son.
God forbid I ever end up in that situation, but having seen this act of love (that’s the only way to describe the neighbors’ gift) now I know there’s something I can do. One burden I can, perhaps, bear for those grieving.