Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Draft Process: How to Write about the Death of Your Pet Without Mentioning Your Pet

97º ~ heading up to 103 before the heat index is figured, grab an oxygen tank, friends and fans of the weather, it's getting hard to breathe out there, the dirt has turned to concrete beneath our feet despite attempts to keep things watered during the night hours

I'm happy to report that so far, I'm on track for a poem a day through Sunday.  Whee.  I'm still starting with Meeks' Biogeography and letting the poems there help my mind loosen up.  To do justice to Meeks, I'll need to re-read the book with more concentration later.  Right now, I'm just letting the words and lines crash over me like waves of sound (I tend to read out loud). 

No surprise, then, that today's draft is "Biogeography: 8/2/11." 

Dear Readers, I confess that I've been wallowing in a blue funk for the past few days and trying to figure out the cause.  I know I'm having some back-to-school stress, but I also had to admit to myself, finally, that I'm still mourning the death of Libby, our beautiful tabby cat.  At the time Libby died, Lou-Lou, our black & white frisky cat, was fighting for her life against an unrelated disease.  Now that Lou-Lou is getting better and is more her old self, the grief for Libby is setting in.  It's such a minor loss when compared to friends who've recently lost human loved ones, but it's what I have going on in my heart right now, so here I am.

Once again, I managed to take the emotions and facts about the cat and place them in a poem without mentioning Libby.  The last time I did this was when I started "Fairy Tale for a Girl with a Fever of Unknown Origin" and I used some details from Lou-Lou's medical files for that, applying them to the girl.  Today, I let my sadness for Libby guide me.  I began with noting the environmental conditions (drought), in large part because of Meeks' influence, and then, I let the poem drift to "This I've labeled a killing summer, / although the heat was not / to blame / for a faulty heart / long undetected." 

from the National Drought Mitigation Center at U of NE Lincoln

At first, I had two chunky stanzas, one of eight lines and one of nine.  I have a habit (bad? good?) of wanting balance in my stanzas but on re-reading there was nothing I wanted to add to the first or remove from the second. This got me to questioning why I'd broken the lines and stanzas as I had.  I re-read (out loud) and realized the poem has a lot of nature in it and a lot of meditation and my mind drifted to Charles Wright and some of his poems with lots of indented lines spread over the page.  I started working through the poem adding more white space and breaking up the chunks.  It turns out, this unlocked even more drafting for me and I was able to trim some of the excess language as well.  Much happier with it this way, even though I recently read someone giving advice to poets by telling them to stay away from the tab key.  To that I say: to each her own!


On a happy note, I had an acceptance for a poem in my inbox this morning.  Wahoo!  Maybe the acceptance dance will also serve as a rain dance today.  A girl can dream.


Kathleen said...

Happy acceptance and rain dance day. Grieve as much and as long as needed.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the support, Kathleen. I appreciate you.

Supervillainess said...

Dear Sandy, Congrats on the acceptance, and condolences on kitty..

Sandy Longhorn said...

Ah, thanks, SuperV, thanks on both counts.