There are no hooks or bait. The skill is standing barefoot when the ice water runs across your toes and the feeling goes thick in your fingers waiting for the hum in the current. You can be there for months, lock-kneed and bent into shapes you must learn yourself out of. Still the Poem Fish does not swim in those waters, or if it does you sense it slip smaller than a minnow through the splayed net of your hands, watch the words melt and rush away with the rest of the river current. Other days the Poem Fish arrive in shoals, thrash themselves over each other to leap into your hands. Those are the days you learn which Poem Fish to throw back to grow and which you should take a knife to, split open along the belly seam and spill onto the page. Some will turn before you cut, a dead thing dead before you thump its scaled head against the rocks, and filled with sand. Those are not Poem Fish, they will not fill you up.
They fill her grave up with hindsight. Shift the weight of blame to keep her bones in the mud, her soul buried under reasoning, as if the stake wasn’t enough they must reform her a monster. Imagine her rising half clothed in skin, ribcage a broken casket heart still guttering not all the way extinguished. That way her howling can be dismissed as nothing more than yes, yes, yes.
Who missed a day of NaPoWriMo, not me that’s for sure. The Day Six prompt was “Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”
I decided to follow on from Day Five, and chose the last line from the Fiona Benson poem that inspired me, “The woman is blamed” (from [Not Zeus: Medusa I] – ‘Vertigo and Ghosts’).
At some point in the empty hours of a night, the motorway tarmac softens into a sea, allowing broken ships to slip upwards their ghost ragged rigging thick and slack with mist yet sailing steadily beneath these walkways, beneath these sleeping midnight travellers, watching through the steam of their coffees not so much as blinking while spectres leap from mast to mast, all colours bleached down to canvas and a single bone white skulls screaming at the heart of every flag.
I’ve not posted a response to the Day Three prompt as I’m still working on my deck of words. I decided to use Caroline Taggart’s book ‘500 Beautiful Words You Should Know’ as inspiration for my deck so I’ve only got around 20-odd words picked out at the moment. I still wrote a poem yesterday as I took part in the Weekend Writing Prompt, so I’m still on track for 30 poems in 30 days.
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem inspired by one of the images from the Space Liminal Bot twitter account. After a bit of scrolling I came across the image above and it sparked the idea for today’s poem.
No point crying over spilt memories, when the morning slinks in early and worn, shivers itself under the covers beside you dew damp and clinging.
Regrets evaporate eventually, or so you tell yourself, tucking your face into the hollow of morning’s shoulder, scenting last year’s summer.
‘Imagine if-‘ Slide your hand across morning’s mouth, so similar to your own it seems, hush her into half-sleep.
We have other questions to ask when the sun is finished stretching awake, and none of them look back on the moments set in stone.
‘But you want to? Don’t you?’ heavier now with pillow pull, sinking stone dropped into still waters, down, down we go.
The earlier moments seem blurry now, edges smoothed so it all seems inevitable, choices we tripped around first time, face planting into our decisions.
Still… we got here in one piece, or enough pieces to pull together a whole with two halves and another third steadily on its way.
‘All of it could have been so different,’ but nothing wistful in that thought which slips away with the other dreams at the call of morning breaking.
Today’s optional prompt for #NaPoWriMo, is to write a poem about The Road Not Taken, pulling inspiration from Robert Frost’s poem. I’m already very good at picking apart my past choices, and obsessing over how things could have turned out so differently if I’d made a slightly different decision. I decided I didn’t need to voice that again in a poem as it’s not the healthiest of habits, and I’m trying to be better about looking forward rather than back. It’s all experience in the end, and we can only learn from the past, we can’t change it.
When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?
John Ball 1381
There are less of us these days, the ones with the time to weave history into cloth. Once upon, they called this women’s work. We stitched their names just the same, cut their threads to the lengths they needed to be, did not cry over the fraying ends they left behind, but moved on to the next row of coloured strands waiting, to be fixed in place. Our baskets always bursting with material for the making, some scraps we took to our graves though that tradition is gone as well, with no one to keep the patchwork growing so much is lost and moth eaten.