Friday, August 6, 2010
I've been working on a poem that I've wanted to write for a couple of years. I got a little bit of it out and wrote that down. Later, pulling weeds in the garden, I thought of a bit more, a couple of images—and then I realized that I didn't need to rush in and save them. I could get them later.
Yeah, right, you're thinking. I've tried that before.
So have I—and it never works.
But this time, I had a feeling that the poem had become a place I could visit, like going to my friend Laurie's house in Queens. I could look in the poem's different rooms, hang out in the kitchen, listen and write. When I left, the poem would still be there.
Maybe I'm not explaining this well—but that thought reminded me of Mark Doty saying that a poem is like a house—you don't need to take the reader into all the rooms, but you need to know what's in them.
(I like to imagine Indonesian parasols or Victorian wash basins—and I guess it's different for each poem. This one has red dirt and scents of cumin in the hallway and worn bus seats and it's almost always dark outside.)
This was new for me, and I hope the feeling returns for other poems. Meanwhile, I have this one to explore.