there was once a shaggy child who dreamed
of pink and white pinafores
and sweetly starched crinolines
such a scruffy thing with holes in her shoes
and square peasant hands
far too angry, crying too easily
who made this annoying child?
who could be a friend to her?
privy to cinemascopic dreams and
insane visions of angels
conjuring a name from the wind
what landscapes did she wander?
this woman whose mind drew blanks, drew pictures
grew to a fury, a bird, a lover, a mother
grew tomatoes, grew old
she has always known
all mirrors are traps for fools
she sees through walls and floors
and has not broken
speaking in tongues
does anyone notice where she goes?
this woman, so curdled and old
and so alive
like a mule
like the devil himself
that much I can tell you
I originally wrote this poem, SHE
a couple of weeks ago. Sirenita Lake
, generous soul that she is, was taken with my poem but felt it needed editing. She did not immediately send me her version, but tactfully offered to send me what she believed was a cleaner version. I asked her to, please. And what she sent I thought was lovely, including her explanations as to why she did this and that and what she believed she had accomplished.
Her version is very economical and logical, but with poetry, its not yours, until it is. It's a funny process I'm trying very hard to understand. And since I've never had a poem edited by someone else, it was fascinating to see my words rearanged and reinterpreted, this way and that. I let myself digest her version, let it simmer for a bit. I thought I could do it instantly, but it didn't happen.
And as you may have read in my comments on other blogs, I've been spring cleaning. Since there wasn't an autumn cleaning, this house had taken on the look, feel and smell of a haunted mansion presently inhabited by living smelly dogs.
So I've been cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning.
And while I engaged in this truly homeric and monstrous task, I thought about my poem. Since I intend to take this particular poem to a poetry reading this afternoon, I decided to work on it and see how I could integrate all this good stuff and make it once again resonate to me as mine.
To Sirenita: You are very kind. THANK YOU. So very generous to do this, give me your time and energy. What you did was immensely helpful.
And your version is beautiful and may in fact be a better poem than what I have come up with.
What follows is SirenitaLake's edited version of my poem.
When I read it, it did not read as mine: the rhythm was different, it lacked certain elements, most noticable to me was that the devil was gone. I do love that particularly sequence so back it went. And the line "children love the child she is" was never what I really wanted to say, except to discuss how she connects with children and I believe now I've clarified that.
In the end, you can see how a good editor will clarify and pare down excess.
And then in my revised version, how a writer will stubbornly put it all back in again. And then some.
Hopefully a bit better than the first time. :)
A shaggy child dreamed
Of pink and white pinafores
And sweetly starched crinolines
A scruffy thing with holes in her shoes
Square peasant hands
Far too angry, crying too easily
Who made this annoying child?
Who could be a friend to her?
What landscapes did she wander?
Privy to cinemascopic visions
Of every lunatic angel
Conjuring her name from the wind.
She grew to be a fury a bird a lover a mother
A woman whose mind drew blanks drew pictures
Grew tomatoes grew old
Mirrors are traps for fools
Seeing through walls and floors, she is not broken
One curdled lumpy old woman
Does anyone notice where she goes?
Children love the child she is
Alive, stumbling along, kicking
Speaking in tongues