Look at you there: holy,
solid, and still, as if all night
you had been walking the dark paths
of a once-familiar wilderness,
of predation and mishap
nearly piercing you the whole way
— and now you’ve come
to a clearing and are standing there
under the blessing of the moon.
You cannot forget
the sounds that terrified you
but without them
pushing from all sides
you would not be here now.
Look at you, holy:
honoring the howling as holy;
as holy as this silence,
as holy as this light,
as holy as all else.
(A quick note for potential future patrons who might want to understand one of the ways I try to use this site...I try to do regular posts about craft in my work. This is a good sample of what I try to do. Join up and find out!)
I finished this poem, as much as any of them are ever truly finished when I post them, after struggling with it for a few days. It looked very different from the one posted here (and there - click on the title of the piece for a link to the main blog if you are reading this site for the first time)
You see, you're looking at the remains of what was once a 14 stanza poem that once was a convoluted philosophical and literary disaster -- tense agreements were off, lthe syntax was bloated and tangled, and the "line" of the poem -- the word I use to describe the journey to meaning in any poem I write -- was a mess.
It was a stumbling, pseudo-Zen-esque realization of the importance of struggle in the process of achieving peace, or something like that. I'm not even sure what it was supposed to be about at that point, to be honest.
I'd written myself into a corner and was trying to end it with some sort of capstone stanza, which I did -- and that stanza was an early version of what became the first two stanzas you see here.
After I "finished" the poem, I set it aside to marinate for a bit.
When I came back to it, I realized that the earlier work -- the mess I'd created -- was in fact a set of notes I'd created to try and find my way to the actual poem I wanted to write.
I deleted everything except that last stanza, and started from there, staying "grounded," so to speak, in a natural experience that I think said the same thing I'd been working toward but much more simply, along with it now allowing some space for different interpretations by the reader; I think I'd been trying too hard to make sure they got it in the original work. I think it does the work in 20 lines I had been unable to do in the original 70.
Sometimes, poetry is surgery toward healing -- precise, exacting, and tedious work. Sometimes, it's a explosion of inspiration that just works out of the gate. And sometimes, it's bushwhacking your ruthless way through a lot of prickly bush to get somewhere unexpected.