today’s prompt from napowrimo.net is to write an epithalamium, a wedding poem. today’s prompt for Poetic Asides is to write a poem of apology/non-apology, which is funny because that’s what i ended up doing yesterday.
i was probably inspired some by the fire images in jill’s icarus poem. i’ve had an icarus poem brewing for a while, but from a very different angle. mine’s about the husband. but i digress — just sharing some bits that may have weaseled their way into this one. oh! and i was also looking out the window after a meeting at work today, looking down upon the trees, decidedly green with leaves.
the photo? it’s got nothing to do with the poem, except that it makes me laugh to think of it side-by-side with a request to write a wedding poem. the boys and i where on a road trip when we stumbled upon a group of men in bennington, vt, who were honing their medieval combat skills. we’re not sure why. perhaps they were fighting over the hand of a curvy redhead or, erm, defending her honor. but again, i digress.
i don’t think this one has come to its ending. i think there are more stanzas that should be written and the weak ones culled out. but i need my rest. long day tomorrow. long, long day.
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just like yesterday, it’s national poetry month. so it looks like i may be attempting a poem-a-day challenge like this one or this one, as i have in years past. what the hell! i could fail tomorrow, but i’ve failed at bigger challenges. ba-doom-chick. that’s a divorce joke. it’s not really funny, of course, but in the midst of tax season (we owe uncle sam MORE than he’s already claimed) and in the midst of divorce sessions (if i hear the word-pair “marital assets” one more time, i might scream, and if i hear one more time that someone in the room doesn’t believe in “marital assets,” i might make someone else scream), you have to cut me some slack.
friends have been getting me through, which is interesting because one of the prompts for today is “lean on me” by bill withers. well, at least that’s what it is for me. the real prompt is to find out the song that was #1 on the day you were born. so anyway, “lean on me.” i know the song, of course. but in typical carolee fashion what registered was “stand by me,” the movie based on a story by stephen king. and then i couldn’t shake it. i hope i’m not the only one who sees the connection: friends against the world. but there’s something that makes “stand by me” different — a dead body at the core of the story and each boy’s desire to find it and get credit. now you’re talking my language: bodies as pawns. dead things as treasures. and thus today’s draft, which i am too tired to fix. it is bed time. and i only — and just barely – promised myself i’d try.
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so it’s national poetry month. typically, i rush head-long into the poem-a-day challenges like this one and this one. but haven’t been sitting down to write much at all. i haven’t been able to write even when i do. and i am nervous about jumping back in. i haven’t been in touch with that part of myself in a long while. so maybe this piece has something to do with that. and maybe it has nothing to do with that at all.
i do know i had (at least) a couple things on my mind when i wrote it. these two prompts: write a carpe diem poem and write a communication poem (signals, mixed and otherwise). when i first started writing it, it was going to be about his & hers blossoms, but all of a sudden, the gardener appeared. i blame marge piercy. yesterday, i read her piece on the writer’s almanac that begins gardening is often a measured cruelty.
and the title of the post, in parentheses, is “napowrimo #1-ish” because i’m not really sure if i’m feeling up to a writing challenge. but it would suck to regret on day 8 or something that i hadn’t started. so this first piece is an insurance policy. not fully committed. bah.
we spend most of the day together surrounded by our boys. as much as possible (or as little as possible), we bat at strings that still dangle off the week’s arguments. some of it makes me feel better. some of it makes me feel worse. we set a firm boundary: no discussion of the marriage when it was one. nothing that happened before august — when marriage became separation — is to be brought into conversation.
we talk about other things that are undermining us and what’s to be done about it. we disagree, of course, fall into the roles we played for two decades. i say confront it: let’s air it out. he defers to it: let’s pretend it’s not there. i say, you allow it; it’s acceptable to you. he says, let it go. it doesn’t matter. and each of us hangs onto the rope. we talk about schedules, friends — (well, his, though they used to be ours) (it doesn’t matter. let it go.) — the boys, the games, the food. some of it makes me feel better. some of it makes me feel worse (i miss some of the friends). each of us hangs onto the rope.
i think, you still haven’t invited me in to *your* home. but then thursday at my place, i said, get out.
at the end of the rope: a noose it would be easy to hang ourselves on.
i push him in that direction. he pushes back.
we aim mostly at the image of the new thing: divorce.
and how we can be good at it.
there are lots of noises i’ve learned to tune out living in an apartment in the city: footsteps above me, pipes dripping, celebrations in the street, church bells. the only time sirens get through is if there are multiple rescuers/police all at once. but last night, noise from crows sent me out into my backyard to see what was going on. i didn’t capture them at their loudest in this video, but you get the idea.
it strikes me as both plausible and ridiculous: this notion of being good at divorce.
we have worked in shifts since the boys were babies. some of those transitions were just as fraught as these new ones, but trading off responsibility for the family was one of the things we did well. we’re not so good at it now. i flirt with the idea that we are a drop-the-kids-at-the-curb couple, a don’t-speak-except-about-the-schedule pair. i flirt with the idea that he’s a failure and a phoney and that i hate him. i flirt with it doesn’t matter. let it go. i flirt with the idea that those who undermine me will get hit by buses or mauled by bears.
but i’m unfaithful to those ideas.
what i mostly think about is wanting to relax, to settle into this post-marriage world with a beer in my hand and my feet on the coffee table. what i mostly think about is being a good mother and how i can’t fit into that nastiness between me and the father of my children. i choose respect and cooperation, and i expect it in return. it’s the getting there that’s the struggle. there are concessions and negotiations.
also what i think about is being a poet and artist and the shame of wasting energy convincing grizzlies to come out of hibernation and do my bidding. though vengeance (the settling of scores, the coming out on top) is such a temptress, she is not my only suitor. others await.
still, the poet is an undeniable flirt. she put the notes for this in her notebook last night and shaped it up this morning:
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after we read books, i sing “puff the magic dragon” to my youngest before bed. i sound like my mother. i could sing it a thousand times and never tire.
the photo in this blog post is a hinge in my apartment. the doors are solid wood. the building is old, but i am relatively new to it. it’s only beginning to tell me who it is. like these lovely hinges, for example: i’ve been here almost seven months, and i just noticed them a few days ago.
i live in a historic district, and the park it borders used to be a cemetery. i think often about the bodies there, moved or not, and promise myself i’ll do some research. but not before letting my mind run with it a bit. the facts of a story aren’t always what matters. it’s how it feels, how you can play with it on your tongue.
i say, “i’m tired of taking the high road and i’m not going to do it anymore.”
he says, “then why should anyone else?”
because it’s somebody else’s turn. because i’ve been standing in the middle of the road alone and no one has come to meet me. because it’s dangerous to stand in the road. because a girl can only take so much.
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he criticizes me for how i behaved after my mom died. first, it was i didn’t get back into taking care of the house quickly enough. today, it was i didn’t talk to him for two years. trust this: we won’t be having a conversation long enough or involved enough for him to come up with a third example.
this might be as much ice as we get. i took the photo christmas day. it’s the lake in washington park. a half-hearted attempt at winter. i’m glad, as you know, that no one cares too much about brutality this year. i’ve had enough trouble to last me a while.
planning a sewing project with the boys tonight: sock monkeys. finding it fascinating the steps we will take. i realize they do not know how to thread needles. so that is where we are going to have to start. we are going to have to learn to tie knots at the ends. we are going to have to learn basting stitches, whip stitches, blanket stitches. they do not understand how you work from the insides of a thing and then turn it out to hide your messy work. they do not understand the length of time it takes to sew by hand.
i grew up with fabric and yarn and needles. spools of ribbon and thread. jars of buttons. patterns in paper envelopes lined up like books. the women around me were always knitting/crocheting/sewing. though it’s a project they’ve been begging me to do, the boys may get frustrated tonight. remind me that the important thing about this effort is that i’m helping them explore something they’re curious about, that i am sharing with them something my mother and my grandmother shared with me (and i’m sure the lineage goes back and back; buying stuffed animals at walmart is a relatively recent luxury).
i don’t have as much expertise as the previous generations, and i really wish they were around to do the teaching. but — the boys are left to me. i will attempt it. and, even if we don’t end up with anything soft and cuddly, the boys will have seen a process that is at least as interesting to consider in concept (just how will this turn into a tail?) as it is in outcome.
my tongue feels thick and sore. i don’t know why. then i remember: i bit into it this morning with my breakfast. and then i remember more: i have been biting my tongue for years. pain is a whole body experience for a reason: messages from nerves travel great distances (across the continent, for example) to reach the brain and say, i’m hurting. but you don’t have to go far to find a place where my words are not appreciated. i used to share a bed with the person who least appreciated me. i mean, i used to share a bed with the person who least appreciated my words.
it occurs to me i do not have any thimbles to protect the boys’ thumbs. i never liked to work with thimbles, but it’s possible that they might need them. oh, well. i have band-aids. it’s not the blood that frightens me. it’s being responsible for teaching them patience. i’m not the right person for that job.