A Peek Into My Soul . . . Or Something Like That.

Some of you know that this semester, in addition to working on the last book in my young women’s fiction trilogy The Bennett Series and working full-time, I have also started taking classes in preparation for graduate studies in English and creative writing.

I am, for the first time in my life, taking a writing workshop class. The results of our various writing exercises and discussions have actually become quite interesting. A poet and short fiction writer, I am not–at least in my heart–but I have been pleasantly surprised with some of the poems and short stories that have been produced over the past eight weeks.

Here is a poem that was written in a scaffolding exercise early on in the class. Scaffolding a poem sounds like a rather dangerous activity that involves heights and a need for hardhats, but thankfully it’s rather simple. You take an existing poem, write it down on a piece of paper leaving space in between each line, and in those spaces, you write your own poem, drawing influence from the original.

The class started out with “Consolations After an Affair” by James Tate:

My plants are whispering to one another:
they are planning a little party
later on in the week about watering time.

I have quilts on beds and walls
that think it is still the 19th century.
They know nothing of automobiles and jet planes. 
For them a wheat field in January
is their mother and enough.
I’ve discovered that I don’t need 
a retirement plan, a plan to succeed.
A snow leopard sleeps beside me
like a slow, warm breeze.
And I can hear the inner birds singing
alone in this house I love.

After about three or four rounds of revisions, this is what I came up with. This is the first poem I’ve written in nearly five years, and the first since high school I’ve felt proud enough to share. A poetess still I am not, but now I know I could be, should the desire ever strike. I hope you enjoy it.

“Consolations After a Motorcycle Accident”

My clothes are gossiping with one another:
they are planning a little mutiny
later on in the week, if I still haven’t washed them.
I have books on shelves and floors
that think genies in bottles are real.
They know nothing of the world “impossible.”
For them, a winter ball in Moscow
is everything, and enough.
I’ve discovered that I don’t need
a will to live to breathe.
The cat watches silent in the corner
like an ominous fell breeze.
And I can taste the sad words calling forth
a ghost of diamond dust and ash and rust.