Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Uncertain Repast (Poem)

Thought I'd try something different and post a poem in various stages of revision. So a poem-more-in-process-than-usual. Here's what I started with:
Legion

...because she was barren...
-Genesis 25:21


longing loss uncertain memory solitude loss repose
repast replenish multiply multiply hunger wait conceive
conflate design repeat design desire loss reproach
undone desire promised promises laughter laughter laugh

repast replenish multiply multiply hunger wait conceive
uncertain wounded blood-let fallen weary weary blood
undone desire promised promises laughter laughter laugh
to laugh to pray to bleed to be forsaken God forget-me-not

uncertain wounded blood-let fallen weary weary blood
remember memory silent silence silence wait design
to laugh to pray to bleed to be forsaken God forget-me-not
undone desire repeat undone legion desire undone

remember memory silent silence silence wait design
conflate design repeat design desire loss reproach
undone desire repeat undone legion desire undone
uncertain memory longing solitude longing loss because
I've been working on some poems lately inspired by my sister's long battle with infertility, a venture ten years in the making that culminated in her and her husband's recent adoption of a little boy. One night a few weeks ago as I was trying to re-work a poem I was stuck on, the first line of this poem came into my head. And I just kept going with it, shaping the lines into a pantoum as I cataloged words.

As I worked to focus and compress the language, I came up with this:
repast: replenish multiply: conflate
conceive desire design divine divide
reproach: divided by: hunger

undone desire promised promises laughter laughter laugh
But I only got a stanza into it before I realized that wasn't where I wanted to go. Before I realized that approach wasn't quite giving me what I wanted.

So I started over and worked it into this:
Uncertain Repast: A Psalm

...because she was barren...
-Genesis 25:21


come Sarah Rebekah
            Rachel come come
                                    multiply come
desire design conflate conceive divine divide
at the body's uncertain repast
                                                come eat come
replenish come wounded blood-let weary

come desire design conflate conceive divine divide
come forget forgotten
                                    forsaken
                                                God forget-me-not
come replenish come wounded blood-let weary
undone fallen
                        trailing crimson promise
                                                            come to laughter to

forget
            forgotten
                                    forsaken God forget-me-not
my wilderness-deep appetite
undone fallen trailing crimson promise
                                                            come to laughter to
laugh to pray to bleed to birth to verb to come to

wilderness-deep appetite to
the body's uncertain repast come eat
                                                            come
laugh pray bleed birth verb
                                                come
multiply come
You'll notice some of the language remains from version one and you can still find the pantoum-ic repetitions, but I decided to explode the lines a bit, a choice I made because I didn't want punctuation in the poem, but I did want to separate ideas in places (though in others I wanted them to stay more ambiguous) and to highlight certain words.

The form's a bit of a departure from my norm, but I wanted to try something different in hopes that the form would jibe with the content. And that's where I'll leave you for now. As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated.