Revisions

Felipe and Squash Flowers

Felipe and Squash Flowers

Last year, when I participated in Napowrimo, I worried I wouldn’t be able to write a poem in a day. And as it turned out I could …and couldn’t. This poem, Husband, recited for Felipe on Valentine’s day was written during Napo, but re-vised many times since, including while I was memorizing it, which made retention a little difficult. Ultimately, it required ten months to finish, a little less time than usual, a year is the standard time frame for me to complete a poem.

I thought you might find it interesting to see both versions. This is the finished version.

Husband

I wanted to write you a love poem
but all I had were words
made of letters formed from
ideas once pictures
representing things only
considered real

I got to thinking of the languages
you know, you learned by listening
to chickens cluck, and cockle
You look for hawks in their
racket and a lost chick
at their bidding

Your eyes change in the light like
night eyes you’ve shown me, “See–
rabbit’s glow round, look how
they differ from a cat, a skunk–
man, learn them all and you’ll never fear
inevitable darkness”

Being more domesticated, even I
now discern the subtle bark:
people coming, livestock
vehicle, stranger, friend
But I didn’t think to listen
until I witnessed you

all my life, lived in a world full
of language I never heard–I couldn’t find
water following beetles, I didn’t
look in the dust for messages, whisper
with horses sharing breath or even
believe in love

This is the original.
I try to leave something alone once I feel I’ve done my best, but I never think my work is perfect. How do you know when to stop? Is your process fast– standardized? Do you take ‘time off’ from a piece? I’d enjoy hearing about your creative process.

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

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6 thoughts on “Revisions

  1. This is a beautiful piece.
    I try not to go back to my poetry too often, if I feel that it needs changing significantly then I just write another poem. However I do tweak piece quite a bit every not and again.

  2. It’s so interesting to see the finished and unfinished versions. I find they compliment each other in a way, almost forming a new poem together, or a tiny collection.

    That squash flower is huge! In the summer we love to bread and fry squash flowers, but I’ve never seen one this big, beautiful.

  3. That’s an interesting observation Letizia, especially in relation to the comment from Carol. Food for thought for my process.
    The flowers are huge, and the have a wonderful scent. Much different than the blossoms in Iowa. I like to stuff them with queso freso(ricotta) and them poach them in chicken broth with fresh thyme and marjoram.

  4. Good question on how do you know when it’s done. I like the quote by artist Paul Gardner, “A painting is never finished. It just stops in interesting places.” I think it’s true for novels and poems too. Beautiful poem so I think you’ve stopped in an interesting place. 🙂

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