Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Draft Process: Fevered Fairy Tale

80º ~ conditions the same

I promise this blog is not going to turn into a cat blog, but the new poem I'm working on is linked to what's been happening with Lou-Lou. 

On June 20th, I took Lou-Lou to the vet with lethargy, no appetite, and weight loss.  At that time she had a high fever.  Because she was not injured and hadn't been exposed to any sick cats, the vet called it "a fever of unknown origin."  Our good friend, Sean, was staying with us at the time, and he asked if I would put that in a poem.  Normally I shy away from these kind of direct links, but the phrase stayed with me. 

image accessed at

In the meantime, I am still working on fleshing out a chapbook of my "tale poems" and finding myself short by a few pages.  One night I scribbled in my journal "Prayer for a Girl with a Fever of Unknown Origin."  I thought that a prayer would be a nice change of pace from the tales, and a few days later I started drafting a poem in that manner.  Instead of a cat, my usual main character, only known as "a girl," is the one who suffers.

The draft begins:

Once, a girl fell ill so slowly no one noticed.

I drafted three, six-line stanzas on July 1, the day that Lou-Lou had her blood transfusion (strengthening her for the tests she'll have this week).  However, I couldn't finish the poem.  I was too much in the middle of Lou-Lou's crisis.  And while, in the poem, it's a girl who gets sick, there are parallels to some of Lou-Lou's details. 

On Sunday, I tried again, and wrote what I thought were the final two stanzas.  But, it didn't sit right.  It was too easy and predictable, I thought.

Then, when I was finishing Jeannine Hall Gailey's book, which I posted about yesterday, I was struck with the "right answer," and I scribbled out some notes.

This morning, as we wait for a call from the vet to bring Lou-Lou in for tests, I have distracted myself by rebuilding those last two stanzas, deleting everything I'd added on Sunday.  I'm much happier now.  Perhaps because the girl lives now but in a weirdly altered way.

I've retitled the poem "Fairy Tale for the Girl with a Fever of Unknown Origin," because it is more story than prayer.

This whole draft is odd for me, as I normally wait quite a while before using something from my real life in a poem.  I find that I usually have to let it all sit before it becomes workable material.  Given the shifting nature of the process of this poem so far, I have no idea if it will stick, but I'm glad to have written it.


Tawnysha Greene said...

This sounds like an amazing poem. Hope to see it when it's done!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the support, Tawnysha.

Kathleen said...

Maybe you skipped the wait but got the distance via change from cat to girl?

Sandy Longhorn said...

That makes sense, Kathleen. Thanks for pointing it out.