Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Poetry Before Dawn

So far, it's been a good poetry day--even before the sun nibbled at the edge of the horizon!

I sat at my desk thinking about how long it's been since I wrote a poem; it's only been 2 weeks, but it feels like longer.   It's been even longer since I read a poem, and longer still since I read a whole volume.  I buy book after book, flip through them when they arrive, set them aside for a time when I'll have a chance to fully appreciate them, and rarely return.

So, I went to my stack of books and pulled out Kelli Russell Agodon's latest, Hourglass Museum.  What a wonderful collection!  Many of her poems explore love, especially the long relationship kind of love.  Perhaps my favorite of these poems with that theme is "Collaboration:  On Some Other Planet We're Newlyweds."  Here's a sample from the poem:  "In Jupiter years, we've been married /  a couplet, eighteen months, in a world / of purgatory that equals one grain of sand.  If that."

These poems reminded me of a discombobulating experience I had in Columbia, South Carolina last week.  We drove to the Knitter and Quilters' Expo in St. Andrews, and I noticed that a restaurant had disappeared--nothing left but a concrete slab and some steps that led to the weedy parking lot.

You might wonder why I'd even notice--well, that was the restaurant where my college boyfriend--now my husband--and I had our first, "real" date.  And now it's gone.  I said, "I'm trying not to see this as a bad omen."

One of my grad school friends said, "I think it's neat that your marriage has lasted longer than a building." 

Well, there is that.  And from there, I wrote a poem.

But my muse wasn't done with me yet.  I felt another poem nibbling at the edge of my brain.  This poem, too, was triggered by a bit of Kelli's book.  I read these lines from "La Magie Noire": 

"I have always wanted to attend a party
where someone wears a lampshade,
where a woman slips
into a coatroom with a stranger.

But these are not my parties.

Mine have schedules, cloth napkins,
side salads.  Someone mentions The Son of Man.
Someone mentions thread count."

I thought about a woman I met a few weeks ago who extolled the virtues of her sheets made out of eucalyptus fibers.   I thought of trees and rough branches, but of course, those branches are transformed into fine threads.  She talked about how superior a fiber eucalyptus is, much better than Egyptian cotton.  And such a deal for only $175.

I sipped my wine and thought about my own favorite sheet set, which has been washed into softness and submission.  I couldn't begin to tell you the thread count, but I'm sure I was around 200, not the 500 of the eucalyptus sheets.   The sheets came in a set, along with a puffy comforter and pillow shams, and I think I paid $75 for the whole thing, way back in 2002.  I've yet to find anything I like better.

I thought of the quilts that my grandmother stitched together from the scraps of the clothes that she made us.  And soon, a poem emerged.

Soon, the rest of the day will be upon me.  It will be a mix of fun--lunch with long-time friends--and work that shouldn't be too onerous.  I feel lucky for a day that includes a good mix, for a day that has poetry before the sun comes up.

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