Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Lit

Here I am passing that gate again,
and behind it the swing and the sandpit
and the deck with named hooks 
and a sink for washing paintbrushes,
and as the sun
fills the glass doors of an afternoon
in winter, spilling over the floor picking out
dust and crumbs,
so in this late afternoon, with no breath 
of air, I see every splinter of that old gate, every
hand that pressed on it, pulled it to,
and I can hear the coming through
of the children, I goin’  to
I goin’ to
I goin’ to wear the prin--cess dress
and the women coming through,
some of them stooped and stopped,
boulders in the flow,
hands heavy on the bolt : cocked
to laughter, crying, running feet, and there
I am
walking towards myself, red paint
on one cheek, hair long and thick as a pony’s, 
holding the hand of a tiny boy who chatters
and the foot of another who bobs 
on my back sucking hair, and I’m smiling, I think,
and I’m tired, I think, but
I am most like this billowing opera of light
that is everywhere in this failing afternoon,
seizing each hair, pinking each
fingernail, singing of the sweetness
of new skin: I am fearless,
I am full to the brim, and I am cantering past, heartless
and fast, through the gate, up the path, over the dark, obliterating hill.

Mary McCallum

I wrote this poem so long ago and I've just been redrafting it, and I do believe it's still a draft. All my children went to the local Playcentre where we spent 12 years in all  (for the whole family joins and is involved in running and maintaining the place - including running sessions for the children), and the poem is about that lovely place, and walking past it some time after our last child had left. 

The poem needs more work to bring it together but I have contract writing work that is whispering hard and fast in my ear  'me, me, me!' I will leave 'Lit' for now and see where it goes... How lucky I've been to have more time to write poems thus far this year. I will have to grab the moments now, wring them by the throat. 

Click on the quill in my sidebar to take you to Tuesday Poem, the hub, and a poem by Graham Lindsay courtesy of David Howard. Very cool indeed to make the acquaintance of both these South Island poets. And have a happy Maori Language Week. Kia ora! 


AJ Ponder said...

It certainly captures the whole Playcentre feel very nicely, while remaining somewhat exotic and detached.

Helen Lowe said...

Mary, I think it works up until the last two lines--somehow these don't quite either 'tie up' the rest of the poem, or leave it open in the way that nonetheless 'finishes'--but I was right with you up until then, enjoying but also 'puzzling it out.' Others may see more to suggest, however.

Helen Rickerby said...

Lovely Mary! I was especially taken by 'I am/walking towards myself'. Isn't it a pity how poetry has to fit into the little gaps and spaces in one's life, rather than having more space for its own.

Penal-Colony said...

Outstanding performance, Mary,

These lines are just lovely:

"I am most like this billowing opera of light
that is everywhere in this failing afternoon"

I agree with Helen. The last 2 lines are quite unnecessary. Why not end with:

"of new skin. I am fearless."

Although I also like 'dark, obliterating hill'.


Mary McCallum said...

Thanks everyone - lots to think about there. I've stared at the last two lines for a full five minutes now.

I like the way the past 'me' is heartless and fast and canters on past into the dark - the past obliterated like the sun when it sinks etc - but I am interested that you, John and Helen L, think the poem can end on the upbeat/the pure revelation. Perhaps I want to make too much of a story of my poems? Bryan Walpert - I think it was - told me a poem shouldn't end on action but that the language itself should be enough...

I'll go to sleep thinking about all this now. Lovely. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment.
And yes, Helen, poetry deserves more space in daily life! Maybe we should organise a march to that effect ...

susan t. landry said...

very beautiful, mary; and so gracefull, you have said something special, something new about that haunting deja vu, of "there i am, walking toward myself". dont we all feel that, think that, and yet you tip it out with so little apparent effort.

thank you for the joy of it.


Melissa Green said...

Mary, this is so lovely, so vivid. I agree with John's lines "I am most like this billowing opera of light/this is everywhere in this failing afternoon".

'of new skin. I am fearless." seems the natural ending. Maybe the 'dark, obliterating hill' belongs in a different poem. As it is now, without it, is is almost too bright to look at but that's the nature of revelation and being filled with the pneuma of life, the inspiring/being filled with the spirit of both the highest human feelings and having the Muse guide your hand with such assurance.

Helen Lowe said...

Mary, I liked 'dark obliterating hill' for itself but it also has quite a strong echo of Blake's "dark satanic mills", although that may have been deliberate on your part. And there's nothing wrong with echoes, but as the concluding lines I do think it can weaken the poem. Anyways, just another thought to throw into the melting pot.

Unknown said...

Lovely lines. I especially liked the the way it begins.