I spent the weekend in the Sonoma and Napa valleys California, tagging along with my husband to wineries. We went on tours and asked questions, and I learned more about the process of making wine—especially red wine: the pump-over, and the racking, and the fining (no one ever wants to tell you much about that), the fermentation processes and yeast and barrels and temperature and most definitely aging.
Any wine maker has his or her own little tricks and variations, but the basic idea is the same: certain processes need to be done at certain times so that the grapes you crush become the wine that you want to enjoy.
I've heard people talk about putting your poems in a drawer for—oh, say, two years. I've never been good at that. When I think a poem is ready, after x number of revisions and comments from a poet friend or my poetry group, I'm ready to try it out on the real world.
What if I put it in a barrel for 18 months or a couple of years? What if I revisited it at periodic intervals and tried different things—give the poem, or myself, time to mature?
What's the rush? (That opens its own barrel of questions.)
Maybe it's time I become more patient, build the barrel time into my work.
What about you? Do you hold onto your poems, even after many revisions, and give them time to rest—or give yourself time to gain some new perspectives that you can bring to them?