Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Draft Process: Offered Passage, Offered Healing

74º ~ a cold front entered the state last night, bringing much drier air, if not a serious dip in the temperatures, still, the windows are open, the birds sing, the breeze blows, and the A/C rests

I continue on with my iPad, as the iMac difficulty has puzzled the geniuses at the Apple Bar. They have one trick left in their magic box but it requires a part they had to order. All this to avoid paying for a new computer, which will be worth it if this trick works.

Yesterday's draft went up in the smoke of two electricians who thought they were coming to the house for an easy job: switch out a new vent/fan unit in the bathroom for the one that conked out. We'd bought the replacement unit last year, thinking we could do it ourselves, and it took us this long to call in the experts. We live in a 1927 bungalow with lathe & plaster walls and beautiful architectural details. The wiring, well, that's not so beautiful, as the electricians discovered. Our broken unit was the oldest vent/fan contraption this guy had ever seen and none of the wiring that existed in the attic made any sense. There was much flipping of switches and use of the live wire detector as electrician #1 stood in the bathroom hollering up to electrician #2 in the attic (it's a one-storey house as opposed to a house with only one story...hee hee). The cats, well, they were shut in the big bedroom. Gracie cowered under the bed in silence, but George made his displeasure known, repeatedly and at good volume.

In any case, the one-hour job ended up taking four hours, during which time I managed to read a lot of blogs, surf Facebook, and finish reading Patricia Smith's amazing book Blood Dazzler, which I'd started last fall when she came to Little Rock to read. When I finished, I started jotting some words down in my journal for a wordbank, and after the electricians left, I did manage to start a few lines, but they didn't go anywhere. I really am that sensitive poet type who needs the calm and the quiet of the morning to get my poetry head on straight. Sigh.

The words from Smith's book that sent me reeling this morning as I built on the scribbled lines from yesterday were "crimes," "throat," and "cradle." I'd been thinking about confessions and crimes because the sickly speaker refers to her transgressions in several early poems. I definitely want to explore that idea that often percolates beneath a long-term illness, that idea that we must have done something wrong to deserve this punishment. Combine this with a comment I received from one of my best poetry friends when I shared some of the recent poems with her. Her comment had to do with the mystics. The sickly speaker calls anyone who is not a whitecoat or a nurse, a mystic. These range from janitors to physical therapists. My friend said that the mystics weren't mystical, they were too mundane. In reading back over the older poems and comparing them to the newer drafts, I saw that I had lost the mysticism of these characters. And so today's draft begins:

When the mystic arrives to note my crimes,
she begins by clearing my throat of the threads
I swallowed to make a muting nest. Her hands

cradle and coax me...

The draft is nine tercets, which is fairly lengthy for me and the sickly speaker. In it, she eventually coughs up her confessions on the promise of release. (See how I'm working toward the end of the series, which makes me sad.) Again, I came up with the title on my own rather than stealing a title from a book on my desk. Not sure why this worked recently and didn't work in the past, but there you have it, "Offered Passage, Offered Healing." I purposefully worked at using words with heavy religious connotations for the mystic this time. Perhaps the next mystic to make an appearance will be an electrician and perhaps he/she will help set the speaker free. So much imagery in electricity and wiring when all the shouting and beeping is over.

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