If there’s anything I’ve learnt in my poetry workshop this semester, it’s that I’m not a poet. I spend most of my time feeling belated embarrassment for all the poetry-related opportunities I’ve applied to, or that I’ve even dared to submit poetry for publication at all. There are different sorts of writing I do well, and I’m not sure poetry is one of them. I solemnly swear that I’m not tying to force positive comments out of you, I’m just stating what I feel to be true.
Still, I’m swerving out of my lane momentarily and I might as well do it wholeheartedly. Here’s a work in progress I wrote for my class. It’s a response to one of favorite poems from Lucille Clifton, “what the mirror said,” second only to “won’t you celebrate with me” also by Clifton.
you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.” (“what the mirror said,” Lucille Clifton)
tear up the skyline
fix it to my belt loop and pull alongside me
twist telephone wires into hair ribbons
string trucks for earrings– helpless drivers
dangling from windows screaming terror–
drown panicked car horns in the plenty of my laugh
root firm legs on river bank one side and deep valley one side
snap tree trunks halfway
clean my teeth with the branches
darken lashes with highway tar not yet dry
satisfy thirst on lake water and sun’s rays
Am splendid some person
hail glory or perish
My dear friend Breauna printed out a copy of this poem and left it in my mailbox on-campus after I had a particularly rough week, and I have since memorized and retweeted it more times than I can remember. Apart from Breauna herself, a few other supportive friends, faculty and staff at my school, this poem is one of the only things keeping me focused on that glorious day when I can dance across the graduation stage, because “everyday/ something has tried to kill me/ and has failed.” (If you think this statement is melodramatic, I don’t blame you. You must be new here 🙂 )