Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo #19: scraps




Last year, right after NaPoWriMo, I went to a day-long poetry workshop (which, incidentally, I'll be doing again this weekend). Sam Green had us do an exercise that involved writing about smells from our childhood. One of the first ones that came to mind was the scent of the chicken coops behind the trailer where we lived when I was between three and six years old. I started working around that and came up with a few lines of a poem, but it was rough and when I got home, I tucked it away and forgot about it.

Today's prompt at Read Write Poem was to take the scraps of an old poem and make something new. Suddenly, this old poem jumped into my mind and begged for another chance. So, here's the background, because otherwise it may not make sense (it's reworked, but still rough).

When I was small, my dad used to sing to me at bedtime. I can't remember when I (or he) outgrew this ritual, but I have vivid memories of it, and the song I remember him singing is John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders". Whenever I hear it, I think of him.

Oh, and by the way, the words in italics are lyrics from the song which I've worked into the body of the poem.

So Dad, this one's for you.


Sunshine on My Shoulders

Sunshine
outside, still oppressive
at this evening hour
but in the dim room you sit
on
the edge of my bed
tuck a yarn-tied
nine-patch quilt up to
my
chin the exact way
I like it best
and I can see your
shoulders
outlined crisp, dark
against the soft glow
of the drawn shade, which
makes
a gentle tap-tap-tap
against my window sill
its rhythm soothes
me
as it lets in
the still-bright air
the soft clucking of
happy
hens and their sharp scent
though I barely hear
shades or chickens when
sunshine
spills from your voice
the liquid weight
of each word suspended
in
the space between
you and me
a honey-song I taste on
my
tongue, that echoes
golden in my ears
and glows amber in my
eyes
when your voice catches
each time on the same line
in the chorus I
can
hear all those things
you don’t ever say
and each night you
make
it right again
when you sit here
in this same spot beside
me
yes, we are at our best
for those moments
when, together, we
cry.

5 comments:

aubrey said...

oh wow. i adore this poem. i want to print it out and reread it. beautiful, beautiful. especially knowing the background and listening to the song beforehand.

Delayna said...

So cool Katie.

Dyann said...

I'm with aubrey. Knowing the background makes reading your poem an intimate glimpse into your childhood.

chicklegirl said...

Thanks so much, ladies.

Kim said...

All choked up at my desk. Lovely.

...I'm smiling at your father's song choice, though, which is perhaps more tender? appropriate? than much of the Johnny Cash oeuvre that my dad subjected me to, back in the day. Heh.