Last night I wrote a poem while weeping. The poem was about my family, and I could not tell if I was happy or sad. It is the worst poem I have ever written- technically. It is the best poem I have ever written- because I put so much of myself into it. And like tasting the first spoonful of a dessert, I want more, and I do not want it to finish when my plate is empty.
-A comment on facebook after writing.
A few days ago I wrote a poem for my Nan for her birthday. After struggling to write for a while I learnt so much. It is not the best poem I have ever written. It’s a little soppy, and won’t make sense to a lot of people, but as I wrote I could not stop crying. I wasn’t sad, nor happy. I was simply re-living moments that I value very much.
I don’t think enough about my characters and how they feel about others, I don’t give them their own memories or feelings. Most of the time they are hollow aspects of myself. Yet writing that poem I wanted to write more. We don’t notice how we affect others by spending time with them. I need to think on that.
I have also been attempting to write a poem called ‘Since Narnia’ for a long time, about leaving children’s fantasy books behind, but longing for my own adventure. I realised that it wasn’t working, because I was only listing things I remembered, but nothing to relate to, nothing affecting.
I need to write more, considering all this. I would also like to thank the writer of ‘Writing Down the Bones’ Natalie Goldberg, whose book I reach for when I want to write, but do not feel ready. Her advice, kind words of wisdom and relationship with Zen make her book THE MOST IMPORTANT reference book on my shelf. More than an any dictionary, or the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook.
I urge all writers to write about their family, about their teenage years, about what affects them. Natalie suggests writing about your first sexual experiences- which would certainly be a conversation starter- and will definately get a pen moving across a page.
Without further ago, I’d like to share my poem with you. It’s still in a rough form, but it is not meant to be for others. It is for my Nan and I. And it doesn’t matter, we’re a little rough around the edges. It’s soppy- I say that again.
A Birthday Gift
You have opened the envelope,
Smiled at the card,
Slipped your fingers between folded, crisp, white paper.
I have to tell you something.
I struggled to find a gift for you this year.
What does a woman want? What could my grandmother,
with great-grandchildren, a husband and a life-time of adventure-
Possibly want for her birthday?
I have forgone scented soaps and candles,
to give you this poem.
Something only understood by the two of us.
So please sit down, and find a box of tissues.
This page may contain a storm.
I want to give you my memories.
There is no receipt for the hours we have spent together,
No invoice for the next.
The memory of a sweet summer afternoon
on the grass of Corisande, drawing,
of running down to the gooseberry bushes
only to be stung by their bristles,
and have you kiss their prickles away.
Another, in that same sunshine, twisting twisted yarn between my fingers
Which began my skills and a passion
To create, with nothing but ideas and thread,
Gifts to make loved ones smile.
Now I call myself a writer, and my gift to you is this poem.
It doesn’t rhyme, it has no rhythm.
But it comes from where you are,
It comes from my heart.
I remember when I was afraid of the dark,
You found a night-light which made the shadows creep away,
But when my fears were too much, you did not scold me
When I crept downstairs and sat a while,
Curled up in blankets, surrounded by your conversation,
So warm, so very loved
It is my definition of home and comfort.
I always reach for a glass of fruity blackcurrant squash after a long journey,
But it’s not the drink which refreshes me.
It is your smile,
And while I write this I am crying. But I don’t know if I am happy or sad.
Forgive me for not writing this by hand,
I do not think the paper would have survived the flood.
For the many times I have climbed into your embrace,
For the times we have made each other laugh,
For the hours we have spent together, which will never be enough,
I wanted to say ‘I love you’.