Yesterday I wrote about my latest poem publication and a link to the current issue of Southern Women's Review, where my poem "Cassandra Considers the Dust" appears on page 43. I've loved this poem since I composed it, and I've sent it a variety of places to be considered for publication.
I've read more than one person who says if your poem gets rejected x amount of times, you should revise it. But given the vagaries of the publication process, I don't follow that advice.
This poem was first headed on a different path. I had been thinking about the kinds of people who keep watch during the night hours: doctors on duty overnight, monks in the early morning, mothers with sick children, and the monitors in a hospital.
I had planned to have three speakers in the poem, and I started composing in the voice of the doctor. I wondered what it would be like to work long hours amongst the sick and dying. The central image came to me: the doctor as the modern Cassandra, telling her patients the news they don't want.
I thought of the modern climate scientist as Cassandra: how many Cassandras live in our modern lives! I almost created a different poem.
On my way out of the door one morning, I noticed a thick coat of dust on a bookshelf. I thought about dusting, and I thought of the climate maps I had played with: how little sea level rise it takes to subsume a coastline!
I thought about the fluids flowing through our bodies, the fluids sloshing across the planet.
All these strands eventually came together in the poem that has now been published. You will see that I abandoned my plan for three speakers; the doctor had enough to say for one poem.
Poets aren't often asked which one of their characters they like best--many of us don't create characters. I write fiction too, so I consider this question periodically. As I look back over the characters I've created, I have a fondness for this doctor.
I have created many characters like her, it occurs to me, and they're often women. They have lots and lots of duties and responsibilities. Late at night, they return to a home that's more like a sanctuary than a home.
Home as hospice chaplain--perhaps I shall play with this idea.
But early this morning, it's time to think about my own day of duties and responsibilities. I will return to my sanctuary, but I'm luckier than many of my female characters. I'll return home in the late afternoon, not the late night.
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