But after 4 days of antibiotics, I feel blissfully better, enough to go to my friend Lea’s house last night for a holiday hoe-down. Great fun!
Lance and Vincent came, too, but left early once Vincent’s fascination with all the lit candles could no longer be distracted by butterfly crackers and cupcakes.
Darn good thing Lea lives just a few blocks away — it’s still snowing! I took advantage of a small break in the storm to walk home from the party last night — there were plenty of rides to be had, but what a lovely night, and I didn’t have far to go, and the crisp winter air was refreshing after all this illness — and let’s not overlook the (remote) possibility that this little exertion could help kickstart labor.
Okay, no luck. But for the first time it truly felt like the holidays yesterday. We actually have our very first Christmas tree this year (previous dwellings were too small to accommodate anything more than a festive plant.) (But it is sparsely decorated with colored lights and a few bamboo ornaments. Perhaps Vincent & I will work on that tomorrow after we go to the prenatal appointment.)
Lance’s older sons, Cassidy & Morgan, both came over in the early afternoon and helped him put up the new baby’s sky basket — a new configuration was called for now that we live in an entirely new place since Vincent’s birth.
I doubted and worried, but Lance had a plan, and it works. (Pictures will be forthcoming once the sky basket’s new resident arrives.)
Oh, and my spoils from the Yankee Swap last night? — a tin of Lindt chocolate truffles! Who would dare take chocolate from the pregnant woman? It’s the little victories, yes?
That’s what Vincent says when he’s about to do something unadvisable. I should’ve remembered that: sometimes what you get is the exact opposite of what you wished for. I said, I could use a break from my child. Instead, my poor boy has come down with another nasty flu bug, and I’ve been home with him the last two days. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s amazing the iron stomach parenthood gives you.
But Vincent is so sorrowful and lethargic, so easygoing even as he’s suffering, it would be monstrous of me to complain.
...I worked to get to know it. I worked to hear what it had to say. When you revise a poem, think of yourself as listening to it. Strain your ears and screw off your own chatter. For the longest time, I thought I knew that “Lottery” was about despair. Then the poem showed up on my doorstep of its own accord, and I glimpsed something bigger.
I often find that the poem is smarter than I am. The poem usually waits to reveal what it knows to me in its own time. The poem becomes something far outside me; in fact, I often feel that I am just its servant doing its crazy bidding.
While the essays differ in the mechanics of revision, and include plenty on that, these excerpts illustrate a perspective most of the poets share. I don’t subscribe to the whole “I’m just a typist transcribing the instructions of my muse” philosophy of writing; my poems are my poems, good and bad. But what these excerpts mean to me is that sometimes you have to get out of your own way. You limit how much you can say in a poem if you can’t get beyond your preconceived idea of “what it’s about”.
Thank you, yes, I am improving at last, but horribly, Vincent has caught it. From me. Which means I didn’t get it from him, and I’m a bad mama to have intimated that I might have done so in my last post.
I am happy to report, however, that so far, though he’s plenty sick, he does seem to be perhaps recovering quicker. Shhh. I didn’t say that. Bad mama squared, to have just jinxed poor Vincent. Criminy!
Unfortunately, all this sickness hasn’t helped my writing schedule one bit. But today I was thinking about Rilke’s Duino Elegies, the tenth one in particular, whose ending talks about the wonder of when a happy thing falls — that’s always been one of my favorite lines. I started thinking about wonder, and falling, and finally got through this draft. It’s definitely a draft, I’m not entirely happy with it, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever written by far either. If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them with me.
A day without drama or excitement or good/bad news, just Vincent & I hanging out. Vincent (aka My Little Petri Dish) has a cold, so he’s subdued and amenable to quiet reading & coloring time, which suits me perfectly any day (I have latent reclusive tendencies), but especially today — a poem’s been bubbling around in my head, and it’s about time to siphon it from mind to paper.
If only it was that easy! Quiet day off over, and all I have are 10 lines to show for it. 10 very nice lines, 10 lines I’m rather pleased with, but still not a full poem. Sigh. I work altogether too slowly.
Because what sounds easy and natural when you’re reading was of course nothing of the sort for the poet who wrote it. This poem by Kate Gale, from her collection “Selling the Hammock” (1998, Red Hen Press), is a fine example:
The Orange Balloon
An orange balloon floats against the sky
let go by a small boy’s hand
the hand is unimportant here
it is the balloon on which our happiness depends
or is it the sky?
vast untended full and empty
clouds way too much feeling
but it isn’t the sky where our eye rests
it’s the small box of blue space
around the orange balloon
the space in which the balloon
moves wallows breathes
this box of blue is your space we say
it defines you
and the clouds drift sideways
the drifting takes years
it takes forever
To me, that balloon floating away is a poem. Sigh. 10 more lines tonight — is that overreaching? Well, yes. But I guess that’s the point.
I celebrated prematurely, we are not through yet, but–I can see a break in the clouds–Vincent’s not well, yet, but he’s less unwell than he was.
So that’s enough of that.
An interesting thing about submitting toSubtropics is that they only respond via email, whether you submit electronically or post, so no SASEs are required. Today, after about a month, I received an email from them. Rejection–but nicely done!
Thank you for your submission to Subtropics. After careful consideration, we have decided that we cannot find a place for your artful poems in our upcoming issues. I wish you the best of luck in placing these poems elsewhere.
Now, I’m pretty sure this is a form rejection, but that one word, “artful,” cushions the blow, makes it sound more personal than it probably is. Note that “probably.” I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Subtropics, even though they rejected me, because they called my poems “artful.” Isn’t that wily of them?
If you’ve been rejected by them, please, tell me, what did your email say?
My shingles are improving, the rash receding, the pain lessening. But pale Vincent is still vomiting spectacularly whenever solid food hits his belly, so we’re trying to be nurturing and patient and insist on clear liquids though in between bouts he cries passionately to nurse. O it wrings our hearts.
So lacking time or brainwaves to post properly, I thought I’d share this poem by Jan Bailey, from her collection, “Midnight in the Guest Room,” published by
No rest for the weary. Poor Vincent has a yakking bug, and we must all be up at odd hours conducting clean-up and making soothing sounds. Nothing clenches my heart more than seeing his little frame doubled over and shuddering. But, to file under Amazing Resilience of Children: 3:35am, after copious display of stomach contents & ritual changing of pajamas, Boy runs about apartment whooping & chasing the much put-upon cat.
I’m pretty good at this self-diagnosing thing, nothwithstanding my assumption that the pain I’ve been dealing with for the past week is sciatica. But when I discovered a rash on the sole of my right foot last night, and coupled it with the stabbing pain that’s been tormenting the underside of my right leg & foot, I deduced straightaway, “Shingles.”
On one hand, I’m relieved to know what it is, because I was feeling like a whiner, limping around, doing all the things you’re supposed to do for sciatica and none of it helping. That “Aha!” moment did nothing to relieve the pain, but nothing cures what ails you like feeling vindicated.
Of course, my husband doesn’t agree with my diagnosis, so I have a doctor’s appointment after work today to confirm. Which is almost a waste of a co-pay in my book, because there’s no real treatment for shingles, just, “Buck up & deal.” But, and I think you’ll agree:
Being proven right & possibly prescribed good pain meds: Priceless.