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.
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
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
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