Saturday, May 09, 2009

NaPoWriMo #30: re-write

This is the super-duper chock-full-o-poetry final installment of NaPoWriMo. What a blessed relief! It's been an amazing day for poetry; I spent all day at a poetry workshop with Sam Green, the Washington State poet laureate. Wow.

Not just the wow of having an entire day to myself (sans children) to focus on art and creativity and the stimulating conversation of other poets. But wow of wisdom shared. Wow of being able, for once, to go to the table teachable and be schooled in where I could do better. Wow of embracing criticism and the excitement that comes from growth after. Wow of driving home completely drained from the mental exertion of being engaged and present in my art, and not having to cook dinner after. (Thank you, thank you, to my dear husband who wrangled the kids all day and didn't complain, then suggested we hit our favorite Chinese buffet for supper.)

I came away from the workshop with more interest in revising my work and more confidence in how to do it. I feel like I came away with my toolbox filled with functional implements for working my craft, for which I'm so grateful, as well as a shift in attitude about embracing failure and imperfection as a means to better understanding. And since the most recent prompt at Read Write Poem was to revise an existing poem, that's exactly what I'm doing, with the understanding that this is only the first of what will most likely be many revisions. Go here to see the original (which is very recent); the revision—mostly minor tweaks, with a few cuts and a few additions—is below.

Going to Grayland

I’ve got two little ones
strapped in the back seat
and it’s me alone up front
on a day trip to my roots
with an option to stay awhile
each town a bright bead
on this gray silk string
Ellensburg on one end
Seattle somewhere in the middle
Tukwila, Tacoma, Dupont
Olympia, Tumwater, Elma
Satsop, Aberdeen, Westport,
Grayland tying off the strand

hands relaxed on the wheel
my eye catches the glitter of sun
playing off two diamonds
two wedding rings nestled
next to each other on my ring finger
two Christmases ago my mother
gave me nana’s ring, said
keep it three years then pass it on
to one of your sisters
purposefully I brought it with me
on this trip to the home
where my nana came as a new bride

she was a Boston girl, a lady
with wit, sense and style
a trim Navy nurse with soft brown curls
blue eyes that laughed, cried and
smiled all at the same time
she told stories about the war
she and the other nurses living in Quonset huts
near the base hospital on Oahu
and lowering her voice
as if someone might overhear about
another nurse getting discharged
for fraternizing with a married officer
which is why when one of her patients
a young officer
asked her to dinner
she looked up his next of kin first
then graciously accepted
the invitation of the son
of the Reverend Clark Cottrell
from Grayland, Washington

could she have known then
what it would mean
that he would bring her home
down miles of narrow roads winding
through interminable shades of silver, slate and jade
crisp salty stiffness of a breeze blowing
from the ocean to mix with pungent
moss-grown spruce, fir and pine
across one-lane bridges
arching over tidal flats
then down Highway 105
through shorter coastal forest
dotted on each side with small, scattered houses
turning onto the final stretch of Gould Road
that he would bring her home
to Reverend and Mrs. Cottrell
to a younger sister and three brothers but one
to cranberry bogs, skunk cabbage, weather-beaten dunes
to no running water and
all her favorite shoes spoiled with mold?

I look at her ring, then at mine
thinking of my own husband
bringing me home to his parents
to windswept Kittitas Valley
rolling out from the sinuous backbone
of Manastash Ridge and laced
with Yakima River's meandering tree-lined ribbon
fertile but still browner and drier
than the lush emerald bordered sound
and shimmering drizzled swath of my hometown
bringing me to live
in a single-wide trailer
with running water and a toilet
but no shower

and now returning through the familiar green
that became her home
and once was mine I realize
like her, I didn’t choose the landscape of my love
but only who took me there.


Holly said...

Very effective rewrite! Beautiful poem, Katie. I've been enjoying your month too!

aubrey said...

beautiful. i would love to see pictures of your grandma. and her wedding ring.