Yesterday’s NaPoWrimo prompt was a peach but they took it easy on us today and went with descriptive prose about your favorite room, place, person, etc, scaled down to poem form by omitting articles and determiners and any other content that is unnecessary. For Writer’s Digest we were to write a poem about damage, be it physical, emotional, and/or inflicted upon us or others.
I went with devoting the majority of the piece to a favorite person (my amazing wife) and giving a stanza to the damage prompt. There are ups and downs in relationships, even with (dare I say, especially with) your favorites. It;s unavoidable and s caused by any number of factors. It’s what you do when damage is threatened or is present that matters and this woman has been a life saver to me over the years and always knows exactly what to say or do in the midst of what could be damaging to either one of us, or both. There is no amount of repayment for the blessing that she has been and continues to be to myself and our family.
What/who is your favorite thing/place/person? What do they mean to you? Are they still present? If it’s a place, how did you discover it that it would hold such a dear spot within you? If a person, how has the relationship shaped you? All questions to ask yourself as you write and if you don’t mind sharing, I would love to hear the answers.
Happy poeming to all!
our atoms could have been placed anywhere, at all.
but they are here & mingling. untangling
from sleep leaves flesh swimming against currents of sheets.
in the gray of the morning, in the little light, before
the sun turns over from its slumber, behind the shield of
fingers, hands, and arms, is the white of her eye, holding
the most precious jewel of an iris. a blink is a sonnet.
she is not an easy read for she has taken years to write,
her phthalocyanine blue as lovely as her cinnabar vermilion.
there is a girl within, in a dress covered with flowers that bloom
with every movement of her bones, her skin, inspiring
odes to summer.
she once showed me the strawberry sky & encouraged my mouth
to utter to the marbled and marveled expanse when i saw
nothing there. she once kissed me under that selfsame sky
& she acquired the bend of a serif as words exchanged throats
sealed within envelopes for mouths.
and the elements did argue. the elements argued but we
simply moved in closer as the vault above became unbolted,
threatening demise. she diverts his gaze and tabula rasa
sets in with her words, likened to pearls orbiting ears,
curling off of lips swirled with gold.
Poet, translator, and editor Rosmarie Waldrop has been a forceful presence in American and international poetry for over forty years. Waldrop began writing poetry in German before immigrating to the United States.
Central to Waldrop’s poetic output is her work as a translator. In 1970 she spent a year in Paris where she met leading French avant garde writers, including Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach, and Edmond Jabès. Since then Waldrop has become the leading English translator of Jabès’s writing, translating over a dozen volumes of his work. Waldrop has authored over twenty books of her own writing, including poetry, fiction, and essays.
Conversation 23: On Cause
BY ROSMARIE WALDROP
I step into my mother’s room, she says, and though a woman’s body is a calendar of births and injunctions to death, time disappears. Only dead enough to bury could prove sound to silence or the anxiety I know by heart and lung. In my mother’s room. The tie between us anticipates any move to sever it. Terror and lack of perspective. The river runs clear without imparting its clarity, whether we step into it or not.
Deep in the bones, he says. If a butterfly fluttering its wings in China can cause a storm in Rhode Island, how much more the residues of radiation, family resemblance and past rituals. The stove glows red. Thin apple trees line the road. You think you are taking a clean sheet of paper, and it’s already covered with signs, illegible, as by child’s hand.
The heart has its rhythm of exchange, she says, without surplus or deficit. Mine murmurs your name while conjugating precise explosions with valves onto the infinite. I take it down with me, in the body, to develop in a darkroom of my own. They way the current elongates our reflection in the river and seems to carry it off.
A death without corruption is the promise of photography, he says. Focus and light meter translating a cut of flesh into a tense past laughing its red off. But the film’s too clear. Even if smudged with fingerprints. Even if the light falls into the arms of love.
Rosmarie Waldrop, “Conversation 23: On Cause” from Reluctant Gravities. Copyright © 1999 by Rosmarie Waldrop.