Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Not Following the Prompt

I was happily working away at my poem for this week's Poetry Thursday, when this poem pushed in the queue. It was inspired by one of the lines in a poem by Carolyn Forche, as quoted in Pepek's blog post. I thought it was fitting that I borrow one of Carolyn's lines somehow.

This is a poem about 'little things'. My father used to lie at the end of my bed every night, just as the person who is not me but not me does in this one. This poem is me, in a parallel life, taking on my father's point of view and claiming it as my own, if that makes sense. The little blonde girl is back as well. This is one of those poems that sprung instantly into the world, one of those "one day you knew what had to be done" poems.

Because I wrote this one, I didn't finish the 'joke' poem I was writing into this week's prompt. My 'joke' poem is taking a long time to emerge, as it is in fact a very sad poem, and has required a level of attention and sensitivity that I have not yet had time to give it.

Daughter
I have learned
to leave a bed
without being seen.
Small voices elicit
promises in half light.
Yes, blonde child,
I will sleep with you tonight.
I lie curled at the
foot of the bed with
a small woollen blanket
to keep me warm
until her eyes close.
Then I take the book of
Mother Goose we have
just read from start
to finish as we do
each evening (she
can’t read yet but
she knows every word)
and place it on the ground
near her outstretched
hand then I
ease myself upwards
as gently as possible
so as not to wake her.
She sleeps completely
now, her chest rising
and falling in the
safety of my watch.
I pull the door to
as I leave and
wave to her dreams
as my father did
to mine many years ago.
She will wonder why
I did not stay to
watch over her
through the night
but what she does
not yet understand is
that, like my father
who watches over
me still, I look out
for her wherever I
am, whatever I
am doing.

12 comments:

Catherine said...

This is lovely - I suggest you just read it through and check the pronouns - you change back and forth a bit between "you" (or "we") and "she", and if you make that consistent I think it will be even better.

gautami tripathy said...

After I read catherine's comment, I read it again. It does need a bit of reworking at a few place.

like use of "You" and "her" are not consistent throughout.

I liked those lines--

"I look out
for her wherever I
am, whatever I
am doing."

Rob Kistner said...

Absolutely beautiful! I have a daughter I love. She is now 34, but I remember well the scene you depict.

blondie said...

I honestly didn't see any errors with your pronouns. I understood that the use of 'you' was as in direct speech. (Maybe some quotation marks will keep the grammar vultures at bay.) :)

A lovely piece - I am glad you shared it with us this week. I look forward to your 'joke' poem.

Pip said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm guilty of not spending a lot of time working on my poems when I get busy, and this one didn't get a lot of rework! I'll take on the suggestions and see if I can tidy up future drafts...

GreenishLady said...

I love the gentleness and the way the poem just moves slowly, slowly, like the parent does when getting up to leave. Lovely.

Elizabeth said...

This is lovely, and I don't think you need to worry about the pronouns, nor would I use quotation marks to make the direct speech more obvious, as it would interrupt the flow of the poem.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Oh, I loved this- daddy's are special, and even though I don't remember my dad doing this, he may have all the same!
This just made me feel all warm and cozy!

LJCohen said...

I remember doing this with my boys as well. Thank you for the lovely memories this poem brought back.

best,
ljc

Lisa said...

The first word that came to mind after reading your poem was "lovely" - and then I read the comments and it appears I'm not alone in my impression. It's a beautiful poem.

Clare said...

This is wonderful and reminds me of my nieces.
:)

chicklegirl said...

I didn't see any pronoun issues either (but I'm not an expert). What I loved is the sense of generational continuity, that you are taking on the legacy left to you by your own father. So evocative.