I can be an editing bully. I believe in making words know why they are there.
In the script he sees his mother age with dignity. There’s a slowing down; then he finds her, elegant, wisdom pooling in her eyes. _____ A mollusc hauls itself across the ward, catheter swinging from Zimmer, chicken feet probing uneven progress towards a distant lavatory pod. In the original there was no fractured narrative, no longing to skip to the last act. No fear of rattling pills, hospital platitudes, 24-hour TV and porridge. There was no facial hair. Or despair. _____ Hell is a reduction of life to bodily function in which the body trembles on a curve hooked to drips, bleeps and the ticking clock of a disease for which there is no cure but which, they tell you, brightening up, is treatable. They repeat, ‘… treatable.’ _____ Good speech. She does the brave reaction. Endurance is a part she’s growing into. Wait. She requests a rewrite. Take two. Her son sees his mother straighten up, smile, laugh with gusto at the whole tragicomedy of it all.
Many of my poems are seeded in a significant moment. It could be a find, an encounter, something overheard, a glance. I’m not thinking ‘I’m going to write a poem about this’; that will come later when I have returned to it a few times, let it settle, thought about what is rippling beneath the surface. What makes it intense.
If it persists I may write it, allow sensory perception, voices, unfolding. In doing so I’ll get to the heart, what for me is worth sharing: the ‘isn’t this how…’, ‘are we heading to…’, ‘what can be known about…’ Could be psychological; could be a philosophical thought needing to be aired. When I know it, I’ll privilege it.
I can be an editing bully. I believe in making words know why they are there. I spend a lot of time shaping, listening to sound patterns, finding the music. I delight in fine line endings. Ah, assonance. Alliteration: the chicken feet spat out a few brittle consonants. We know all this. It’s always a slog. These days I say less, try not to outstay my welcome.
Rewrite is raw. There’s a tear in the fabric of the poem that lets blistered reality show. I’ve allowed this because letting that voice out leads to a release from tension, a kind of solution. The poem deals with it.
Essentially, the poem is concerned with the scripts we write for our lives. How they can shift over time, how others have their own scripts of the same moments which may also shift. Between those we are close to, the process is intense. Scripts merge, influence each other. Nothing is stable. Least of all, the truth of the moment.