Saturday morning poetry

April 19th, 2008

 

Whatever else happens during the week, Saturday mornings are mine. My husband is in charge of the boys and I have two or three uninterrupted hours of my own. I usually head for a coffee shop and I usually work on my poetry. I only have a few hours because my baby will not take a bottle, not a bottle of breast milk and not a bottle of formula and it’s completely frustrating and we’re working on it. The hours are precious; I feel the minutes acutely as they pass and it’s time I can’t let slip away. One Saturday I was having trouble working, the words weren’t coming and when they did they were as graceful as a three-year old on ice skates. But because time alone is such a premium I can’t let it slide by unused. Here’s my journal entry from that morning:

 

“Having trouble working. Jumping around. Do some Goldberg 3 lines in 3 minutes.

 

[I looked out the window for inspiration]

 

The flag outside

waves goodbye

To winter

 

Blue sky tricked me.

I have my sunglasses

but it’s started to rain.

 

[I looked out the window again and noticed a stall at the market strung with Dream-Catchers and dangling crystals.]

 

She sells rainbows at the market

hanging from fishing line

and dancing to the wind.

 

[I liked that and thought I could keep going]

 

She sells rainbows at the market

hanging from fishing line

next to the wool socks

and dancing to the wind.

They are always in season

but sometimes hard to find

during the long March days.

She knows the secret places,

the hollow under the tree

on the north slope

and the thick mud of the river bottom.

You’d be surprised

the places she finds them:

the second floor of the sandstone building

next to the clock tower,

and her brother-in-law’s cellar.

She collects them all week

and sells them on Saturdays

rain or shine

setting up her stall next to the man with the spices and herbs

and across from the well-made wooden playthings from Germany.

She does a good business

in all kinds of weather.

People always want rainbows

with their steaming cup of coffee from the couple selling cobbler

and heady homemade cream.

It’s a sideline, selling rainbows,

Her real work is the greasy brown of dirty dishes

and ketchup stains

and people who seem to be tipping less these days.

The rainbows keep her in the black.

 

[at this point I can feel the poem is really breaking down and I think I have enough of an idea there to come back to and tear apart and revise later and maybe turn it into something. I stop the free-flow of writing and go back to read it over once and make the following minor changes. The real work of revision will come days or weeks later when I come back to it.]

 

She sells rainbows at the market

hanging from fishing line

next to the wool socks

and dancing to the wind.

They are always in season

but sometimes hard to find

during on the long grey March days.

She knows the secret places,

the hollow under the tree

on the north slope

and the thick mud of the river bottom.

You’d be surprised

the places she finds them:

the second floor of the sandstone building

next to the clock tower,

and her brother-in-law’s cellar.

She collects them all week

and sells them on Saturdays

rain or shine

setting up her stall next to the man with the spices and herbs

and across from the well-made wooden playthings from Germany.

She does a good brisk business

in all kinds of weather.

People always want rainbows

with their steaming cup of coffee from the couple selling cobbler

and with heady homemade cream.

It’s a sideline, selling rainbows,

Her real work is week days are the greasy brown of dirty dishes

and ketchup gravy stains

and people who seem to be tipping less these days.

The rainbows keep her in the black.

 

 

At the line “she collects them all week” I’ve jotted “stumbles here” in the margin and starting at “It’s a sideline, selling rainbows” I’ve written “Breaks down here. Move this idea up top (and reworked)? Drop altogether?” At the bottom of the page I’ve noted “Cute but doesn’t go anywhere.”

 

I type up the drafts from my notebook and keep editing them; this draft is sitting on my desk, still cute, still not going anywhere, but still with a few good lines in there that might have a future.