First Draft: Fourteen

My husband and I celebrate 14 years of marriage today (or, we would be celebrating, except that he’s away on business and I’m at this writing conference, but that’s kind of beside the point).

To commemorate the day, I worked out this first attempt at a poem.  Now, I should note here that I’m not a poet… at least, not yet.  I have a great deal of appreciation for poets; I marvel at the way just these few words can unearth so much meaning.  I remember explaining to my kids once that writing poetry is like making maple syrup; the idea is to take these gallons and gallons of feelings and experiences and boil them down to a few sweet, rich, perfectly balanced words.  I also use a keyhole metaphor; poetry is this tiny little opening through which one can see whole worlds.

I haven’t quite got there yet, though I have to admit that I’ve not worked too terribly hard at poetry, either.  I’ve been thinking more about it, though, since taking Will into my classroom.  He has a gorgeous way with poetry (I may ask him permission to post his piece about writing the dates on the bellies of stars), and the truth of the matter is that I aspire to write with the kind of depth and intensity that he does.  I’m still dabbling at this poetry stuff, though, and I’m still trying to find whatever it is – my stride, my rhythm, my feet beneath me – that will make it click.

I wrote most of this piece in my head in the car on my way home from yesterday’s workshop.  I’m not sure I like it… yet.  I find, as a result of keeping a couple of blogs, that I do a lot of personal writing; there’s a lot of “I” in my work.  For this reason (and because we had a really great conversation in my workshop yesterday about using voice to create a creative and critical distance from an experience), I decided to try to write this in the third person.  I like the effect of it, but I’m not sure I’ve captured yet what I’m really looking to convey with this.

I beg for welcome your critique.  Please; ask me questions, make suggestions, or even tear it apart.  I want to figure out what my poet sounds like, and I’d like your help in finding her.

People say that they can finish each other’s sentences,
but what those people don’t understand
is that they don’t need to.
Words are unnecessary.
Their shared vocabulary
is wide and deep
and most often conveyed
with the twitch of an eyebrow
or a sly glance.

They dance to each other’s music
their movements quick and light
and seemingly effortless
to those looking in
on this pair as they move through the world
in near perfect rhythm
never once looking down at their feet.

Their world is made of innumerable small things.
She doesn’t eat breakfast, but makes sure
his favorite cereal is always in the cupboard.
He doesn’t mind the cold, and so
ventures into the freezing basement in winter
to retrieve the laundry.

To those looking in, the facts don’t add up;
how can so much mundane and commonplace
equal such unmistakable contentment?
Yet there they are,
still radiating
their particular brand of quiet, certain, and
unshakable joy.



Filed under about writing, analysis, critical thinking, Learning, Mrs. Chili as Student, Poetry, self-analysis

2 responses to “First Draft: Fourteen

  1. I really like your elevation of the mundane into something special. The only critique I would make is that it feels a little “wordy” to me. To use your maple syrup analogy, it may not be condensed enough — I think there’s still some water you can boil out.

  2. I love this poem already, but I understand what Ms. Miller is after. Perhaps look through the lines and remove some of the unneeded or extra words ( I know, I know, it sounds easier than it is. As writers we feel that all our words are necessary).
    Here’s my two specific ideas:
    I often suggest to my students during haiku and cinquain writing that removing articles and conjunctions makes a tighter image.
    See what you think of eliminating ‘through their world’ and ‘at their feet’ from the second stanza as well. Since you have ‘Their world’ in the start of the third stanza, I think it might work. A reader would know that your dancing metaphor is more than just waltzing.
    This poem would be wonderful framed and given to Mr. Chili 🙂

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