March 1, 2013 by lucieromarin
Every now and then, I find or recall some scrap of poetry that I wrote in my twenties. I found some again this week; it was going to be dedicated to a priest who once said in frustration, “Women are not meant to be single; either get married or become a nun.” And I remember wanting almost to burst into tears on the spot, thinking, “You really think it’s that easy? You really think I wouldn’t have done one or the other if I could?”
It went like this:
Pray for those, for whom –
though they sowed in good faith –
there came no fruit, no bloom,
but only smoke, a wraith;
no yellow harvest worth
the pain in which they pray,
for their loves have died in the earth
and their hearts have been eaten away.
Looking it over, I can see a bunch of imperfections. First, it has no title, and, ten years on, I still can’t think of one. Second, it starts with the word ‘pray,’ which seems weak to me, and also is repeated in the second stanza in a way that I don’t like. (It’s as though I don’t know many words!) I did think of ‘weep’ as an alternative opening word… but isn’t that a bit dramatic and self-indulgent? I mean, surely there are tragedies in life more worthy of our tears?
I’m also not sure about loves/hearts. I thought that ‘their hopes have died in the earth/and their hearts have been eaten away’ might be better – not only because of the repeated ‘h’ sound, but because the idea of a seed of hope not flowering seems more coherent an image. (Or metaphor. Or whatever it is.)
The other thing is that it really isn’t fair to dedicate it to that priest. See, when he spoke, it was at the end of at least a week of being hassled by a woman who insisted upon giving him messages she’d received from God – including abusive messages. She’d phoned the last one in at 2 o’clock that morning – and of course, he couldn’t take the phone off the hook, for risk of a genuine caller not getting through. (Imagine phoning for the Last Rites and not getting them because the priest was avoiding an annoying person!) So the priest was harried and exhausted when he spoke; it was just unfortunate that I overheard him.
So…I think the poem is worth finishing – I’m just not sure how that’s to be done!
I’d also like to write one called ‘On Reading Love Poetry When One is Not in Love,’ but I must admit I’ve never got anywhere with that, so if anyone else who writes poetry would like to use that title, you’re welcome to it.