Saturday, June 18, 2011

No Waterloo this Saturday in the Electronic Lake District

I read that today was the day that Napoleon met his defeat at Waterloo, and now I can't get that ABBA song out of my head:  "Waterloo, couldn't escape if I wanted to . . ."

Now you have it in your head too.

Let's try to get that song out of our collective brain by seeing what's out there on the Internet to read and how it inspired a poem this morning.

For those of you who can't get enough of my theological writing, head to this post on the Living Lutheran website, where I talk about what living as a Lutheran means (grace!  intellect!  works!  more!).  For those of you who aren't into theological writing, head to this post at Voice Alpha, where I talk about the poet as a cover band.

But those are not the posts that inspired my writing this morning.  I've been thinking about Beth's wonderful post on her tunic from Afghanistan.  I loved the last lines:  "Today I opened the carefully sewn French seams and ran my figertips over the silk embroidery, wondering about the Afghani woman who must have sewn this garment all those years ago. What would these years have been like if women had made more of the decisions? Instead, our world really is rent at the seams."

Ah, seams and textiles and social justice!  My brain went right to work.

I continue to be inspired by Luisa Igloria's poems and her process which she explains here.  She goes to Dave Bonta's daily post at his Morning Porch blog, and she writes a poem.  I, too, have been finding inspiration from Dave's blog, especially those posts of his inspired by his recent trip.  Oh, those graveyard posts!  I love this poem this morning.  I continue to go back to this post to enjoy the wonderful photos.

And then there was this post by Dale, about our ribs.  And it all came together into this poem:

Restoring the Seams

She used to count every rib,
a loom around her heart,
like the Appalachian tool
that spools honey into her tea.

But years of good food and wine
now hide her ribcage.
She lets the seams
out of the side of her favorite
dress, a dress bought long ago,
a dress stitched by a distant
woman in Afghanistan in a different decade.

She thinks of that country
come undone, torn and shredded.
She slides the seam ripper
under threads made softer
by the humidity of many Southern summers.

She thinks of distant graveyards,
young men buried in alien
landscapes. She thinks of English ivy,
that invasive immigrant, clinging
to the marble markers,
obscuring the names beneath.

Hours later, half blind from restoring
seams, she walks the woods
of a neighboring monastery.

The monks have reclaimed
an old slave cemetery, but a toppled
angel lies face down in the rich dirt.
She sets the angel upright
and brushes soil off her half-eroded features.

What does it mean that so much of my poetry inspiration comes from the Internet, particularly blogs, now?  To be fair, I don't think I was ever that poet who went out into nature for inspiration.  No, I read books about nature and said, "Hey, this fact would make a great metaphor!"  And thus, a poem.  So, since so much of my reading material is delivered electronically now, it shouldn't surprise me that I'm finding inspiration here.

If I was a grad student now, I might write a paper or a dissertation about how poets are inspiring each other through their works online.  It's our electronic Lake District!  We can't take long, rambling walks together like William, Dorothy, and Coleridge did, but we can meet in cyberspace and write works that we wouldn't have composed without each other.


Beth said...

You know (backseat theologian that I am) I always hesitate to use the word "magical" but there is something akin to that in what you've done here, and what you're describing. Like you, I'd feel so creatively impoverished without the inspiration and challenge that comes to me every day on the web. Thank you for using some words and images of mine as a springboard for your own poem, which I like very much, but what's coolest is the way those ideas got mixed with Dave's and Dale's too!

Kristin said...

I'm so glad you liked it! It is a bit unnerving to write in this way, using the work of living, breathing writers as inspiration. When I write a poem inspired by one of the Wordsworths, I can rest easy in the knowledge that they'll never notice.

Thanks for your kind words!