Stains from the travel weary

 

All life was compressed inside this travel weary case.

I watch the numbers roll up the scale to 52, the weight

I carry on this journey, on this my final flight

out of here.  Patiently, I stand in line parked

behind an elderly floral coat

and watch the Edelweiss leak

 

its Alpine scent.  But I think only of our leeks

back in their muddy patch of garden.  In my case,

there were no green fingers, just leaves pale coated

in a frenzy of a thousand flies.  I watched them weighted

down, shrivel, die.  All the hopes I had were parked

with you and on those bulging stems.  But that took flight

 

too soon.  I delay.  The tannoy screams the number of my flight,

calls me by name, as a single fear escapes and leaks

across my cheek.  Tracks a river down my chin and parks

itself in fragile folds about my neck.  “This case,”

the doctor said,  my name long lost in jargon, his words a weight

as heavy as the sodden woollen coat

 

I pulled too against the cold.  But other times come, that day coated

in summer rain drops, and footsteps dancing, feet in flight.

And love slicing through the August heat, a heady, weight-

less passion that couldn’t be contained and eyes that leaked

all the lies, spilling like clothes from my overnight case.

 I couldn’t squeeze them back once they’d parked

 

inside of you.  I shuffle forwards now behind the crowd, park

myself against the conveyor, remove my coat

and fur-lined boots, clang what’s left of me  beside my case.

Shifty eyes scan me like a threat about to board this flight.

But cancer is the terrorist and my illness leaks,

dries, and stains their futures.   They hide their faces, weighted

 

down by all the words they cannot hold.  I wait,

this moment, as we all will wait and park

my doubts, let only one last request leak

from my lips.  I always wanted a coat

of flowers adorn my empty breast on this, my final flight.

And white lilies to disguise the stench I carry in this case.

 

©Jacqui Thatcher 2016

If you want to know more about this form of poetry, known as a sestina,  have a look at the link A Formula for Writing Poetry.

Ok, so yes, I have taken a lot of liberties but for me the fact that I have finished such a difficult and challenging task is success in itself.

Fancy trying one?  I would love to read yours so please feel free to send me the link to your post!

 

Happy writing

 

Jacqui

 

 

 

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My song for you

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3rd or maybe 4th draft is finished and as you can see, I have a title for my new poem.  Not ready to be published here quite yet but I thought I would share the creative process that has gone into this poem.

A letter

My most recent work, My Song for You (working title), came from an exercise at my writing group that I didn’t find very easy.  We were asked to write a letter to a friend we hadn’t seen for a long time.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t write letters anymore!  I write emails and I write texts but they are, by nature, brief and functional.  When are we going to dinner?  What time are you home?  – that kind of thing….people I haven’t seen for a while, I have been facebooking, and usually as a response to their post so it has a context….

I always hated writing letters when I was a child, although I did try but they always sounded so…..trite.  And I remain  in awe of people who write beautiful letters.

But I like poetry so I turned my letter into a poem…

The poem

The first draft was a 15 minute exercise and since then, I have been wrestling with the imagery.

The back story for the poem proved to be the most important issue initially – why were these two people divided, what divided them, why can’t they get back together?  The questions that I asked myself took almost as long as writing the poem.  They were important though and provided a framework for the words.

And then the imagery.  When I produced my 2nd draft and offered it for reading, the poem was interpreted as a relationship of violence, of abuse and that so wasn’t what I wanted to convey.

Shame has spun me round, chained my wrists

Blinkered my eyes, slammed me against the wall….

This workshopping effect is really important as I didn’t want that interpretation – it was supposed to be altogether much more loving than that.

So back to the drafting.

A poem that focused on the lives of two people that have been separated by time, I realised that there was too much of just one person in it and it was important that both lives were evident.

Most importantly though, I also had my favourite lines in it that I didn’t want to lose…..and yet they are now gone.  Why?  Dr Johnson advised writers to ‘read over [your] composition and wherever you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.’ (Sansom, p50)  If you read poems aloud (and I think, that this is really important), those ‘fine’ passages stick in your throat…and if they do that, get them gone!

Yes, doing so left a big hole but in its place is room for the subtle effect, which leaves the reader back in charge of the interpretation.

Time to get back to it, for a final or maybe 5th revision!

Happy writing!

 

Dr Johnson’s quote comes from Peter Sansom’s book, Writing Poems published by Bloodaxe Books (1997)