Each of the last three or four days, I've started my time at the desk by re-reading the sickly speaker poems I've accrued and ordered. I am disappointed that she hasn't woken me up at 3 a.m. with news. Instead, I've mulled over where she might be in her journey toward health. It's shaping up in my mind that the transplant should be the middle of the narrative and so I glanced at the number of poems I'd written that occur prior to that procedure and the number after. I was afraid the post-transplant poems outnumbered the previous. I was wrong. So, I'm still focused on the healing time. (It's looking more and more likely that she will recover and leave the hospital/institution.)
In the meantime, I've been wondering about her period. For many women, a health crisis will prevent a normal cycle, and that's what's happened to the sickly speaker. Today's draft began with the idea of her period returning, a sign of her return to health but also a new anxiety, as the disease has been in her blood and she's afraid of losing this new healthier blood that is a mix of hers and the donor's.
I confess, this was a difficult draft because of the subject. I know it is silly but I feel the social pressures of my youth to not discuss such things openly. I say this because it resulted in some hesitation at the beginning of the poem before I found my way in. That way in was through the moon. The sickly speaker has often mentioned the moon in previous poems, so it was a natural way into a poem about her menstrual cycle returning. The poem begins.
Three nights after the full moon passed
its white sleeve through the bars of my window,
I feel the first cramp in my belly. No, lower.
The poem is in couplets again (12 of them), and I begin to worry about an overuse of this form, as I see that the last four drafts are also in couplets. Still, there is time to question whether the form matches the content when I get to the revision stage of each draft.
In the poem, the speaker has to reveal the return of her period to a nurse, as she has no access to the supplies she will need to deal with it, which then results in a group of whitecoats, more tests, and a call for a mystic (what the sickly speaker calls anyone who isn't a whitecoat, one of her normal doctors, or a nurse). The speaker ends the poem resigned to the poking and prodding most women are used to undergoing on a regular basis; however, she is also troubled, as I stated earlier, about the loss of any amount of healthy blood, which could mean a loss of strength and a longer wait until she gets released.
For the title, I turned to Traci Brimhall's Our Lady of the Ruins, since I'd just read it yesterday. In the last poem of the book, "Jubilee," I found this line: "I am red and reeking with the journey." It matched the poem very well; however, the speaker has had little chance to "reek" lately, as she is fever free and fairly contained in a clean space. So, I tweaked a bit to get "Red and Reeling with the Journey."
|Love this chart, all Latinate on such an ancient process.
In the meantime, my computer screen has now gone gray on me twice in the past week and both times I've been on Blogger. I'm sure the gods of technology have mislaid the memo, so let me remind everyone: This is the Summer of Sandy. No unexpected blips are allowed to occur. That is all.