Poem for Poetry Thursday

Wow! Happy Poetry Thursday and Thanksgiving! So appropriate that two of my favorite days merge once a year because I am certainly thankful for both.

Next week, I will attend a Mary Oliver poetry reading. She will be talking about her book, Thirst, so I'll give you a full post on the event. In all the years I've attended poetry readings, Mary Oliver is a first. I wonder what her voice sounds like. Will she read old poems? Will she talk between poems? Will the audience be a generous one? Can't wait to find out.

And onto today's poem, it's a first draft and needs work. And I'm not sure if I'm keeping the title.

I look forward to reading your post throughout the day.

Wet Chalk

Water fills the bathtub
telling me all of your secrets.
How many chickens and stars
can you hold in one hand?

Alone in our safe place,
we rediscover that same old fear
carved on your back forever,
your song dripping from the faucet
like wet chalk.

Never ceases to amaze me how
the body forgives intrusion
and goes on about its business.
Still, there is anarchy in your land—
cells waiting to attack, the viruses
that let you walk the streets
almost happy.

My little god,
it is time for your destruction,
so let’s put the stars back,
we are finished with the world
and all of its negative space.

Some nights are like this,
so content it puts our hearts
in a forgetful stupor.


"My little god"--I felt this phrase with my whole body...knowing exactly what this is like. This poem was quiet, dangerous, and lovely...I'm so thankful to you for continually sharing your work. Looking forward to what you think of Oliver's reading!
Anonymous said…
The first two lines -- "Water fills the bathtub telling me all of your secrets--" really drew me in.

I'm not sure I know what this poem is about. Chalk and bathtub made me think of a child. But "old fear carved on your back" made me think of adults looking back on childhood."
Anonymous said…
Is Mary Oliver reading in Boston? If so, where and when?
Catherine said…
I do like this poem, but also found it rather mysterious - I reached the second to last stanza thinking it was a sad poem, and then the last stanza told me maybe I was reading it wrong. Wonderful imagery though - I love the chickens and stars. And scrolling down to another post, I really don't think you are Maya Angelou (not daring or original? Nonsense!)
Is "facet" a typo for "faucet"?
ren powell said…
I also loved the chickens and stars. This is a great start- I'm sure there can't be too much more tinkering before you're thrilled with it. Wish I were going to hear Oliver read!!
Unknown said…
As always - love the poem. I'm fixated on the image "chicken and stars" because I can't fathom it, yet it's so concrete I can't not fathom it.

Incidentally: totally jealous you're seeing Mary Oliver! Have a wonderful time and I am very much looking forward to the full report! I've read Thirst and though it is certainly not my favorite of all her works, I love it because it is so close--I feel like I get to know something close and deep about her...not just her observations in the world.

My favorite book of hers, the one that got me started on her, is American Primitive. Just love that book.
January said…
Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

My Backyard, I didn't make this clear but my daughter has surgery when she was 2 weeks old, so the reference is to the scar on her back. Maybe I'll clarify that with the next revision. Chicken and stars refers to Campbell's Chicken and Stars condensed soup.

Catherine, yes "facet" is a typo. Thanks! I've corrected it.
January said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
claireylove said…
I keep on coming back to this one January - something HUGE is brewing in your work isn't it? Can't quite put my finger on it but I like it :D

(I think nanowrimo may have temporarily robbed me of my critical faculties - LOL)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving
x x x x x
Anonymous said…
an amazing poem for sure - just the visual of wet chalk is fascinating
paris parfait said…
Gorgeous poem - were you talking about your daughter's early illness?
Anonymous said…
i've been off line for a while but i'm back now and your was one of the first blogs i checked back in with. this poem is so tactile and ethereal at the same time. i love it. first draft or not, it's something special.
Emily said…
Great title. I really like this image of the wet chalk.

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