This morning, I woke up with a poem in my head, a poem with such strong images that I went straight to my purple legal pad to write it down: no coffee, no trip to the bathroom, no I went straight to the paper and pen.
Last night, I went to bed thinking that I'd write another poem inspired by Luisa Igloria's Buddha series that she's posting on Dave Bonta's blog; I particularly love what she weaves together in this one of the Buddha in high heels. Last night I read poems the latest books by Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich. Something inspired this line: "In the end, so little is left behind." My grandmother's button tin floated through my brain and then submerged itself.
I went to bed thinking that I'd record what I'd written in a card to my gravely ill friend:
"When we are little old ladies rocking on the porch, we'll shake our heads at your ordeal in 2014. Then I'll shuffle off to bake a peach cobbler while C_____ cleans up from planting hydrangea bushes. We'll mourn the great house I once had, the house swallowed by the sea. But we'll be grateful, because there are fresh peaches and thrilling shades of blue and purple flowers."
I thought I might turn that into a poem. Instead, I woke up with a different set of images: a huge tin of buttons and a bracelet of bright hair about the bone (that last one from John Donne's poem, "The Relic," which you can read here). I woke up with the image of a woman sewing a different button onto every garment in her closet. My grandmother cut the buttons off of every garment, once she'd patched and mended the garment and done everything to save it; she kept those buttons in a big tin and bristled when her grandchildren wanted to play with them.
The poem I wrote this morning does have hydrangea bushes. It has dark, rich soil, instead of ash and bone. My grandmother kept her kitchen scraps in a gallon milk jug (with the top sawed off into a wider opening); when the milk jug was full, she'd dig them into a narrow strip of soil by the detached garage in the back yard. How I wish I had some of that soil now.
But I have sand, evidence of the once and future sea bed.
Yesterday, I wrote this post where I said "If I could make a bargain whereby I never wrote another poem good or bad again but in return my loved ones would live to a healthy old age? I would give up my own poems."
This morning, I awake with a mostly formed poem spilling out of my brain. I'm trying not to read too much into that.
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