It's National Poetry Month, and suddenly my well has run dry. When I had no particular excuse for writing and posting poems, they popped out, the way babies do sometimes. But just as soon as I tried writing a poem for April 1, the first day of this month devoted to verse, I went into labor of the sort I experienced with my first child: many, many hours of pain and hand wringing and nothing happening.
In fact, not only did the labor last long with little consequence (I finally got a dose of Pitocin after ten hours of labor with dilation to just two out of ten, and that helped speed things up: she was born three hours later), but she was incredibly late. My due date was April 2; she arrived April 30. That would be like the whole of poetry month devoted to expecting her immanent arrival, daily.
She finally did arrive, though I thought she'd never come out. She just took a little more tinkering and tweaking than we expected. And what a masterpiece! Some of my best work yet. This month we celebrate a golden milestone: Lesley turns 30 on the 30th.
This year for National Poetry Month I would like to present poetic forms. I want to try new forms I haven't before, like a cinquain, sestina, triolet, etheree and a rondel. I may write in forms I've already tried, like villanelle, sonnet, tanka and haiku. Besides attempting my own, I'll also post examples by other poets.
Today's form: prose poem. Prose poems are prose pieces that aren't broken into verse lines, but still include other poetic traits, such as metaphor, figures of speech, lyricism, and heightened emotion. One way of writing a prose poem is a letter, which I'm using. It's followed by a sweet prose poem by Amy Lowell.
Here's my prose poem to the baby I waited and waited for in our little house in Pasadena, California, thirty years ago.
To My Unborn Child
Dear Baby ~
I was thinking of you so I thought I’d write.
How are things? I’d love to hear from you.
Your room is ready.
I filled two brown grocery bags with avocados from the trees and the ground out front. I only picked the ones that were heavy and ripe, like my breasts. Dad took them to work to give away.
Did I mention your room is ready? I straightened the picture above the crib last week. I’ll teach you how to do that. See your grandpa taught me. He did it constantly. He couldn’t go through a room without straightening a picture. It’s OK if you don’t get it right at first. You just have to practice. After a while you’ll be straightening things for everybody like Grandpa.
Madeleine, our beagle, keeps misbehaving. When we let her outside, she keeps digging under the fence and getting out. One of these days she’s going to get hit by a car. We should probably tie her up. What a pain. I hate giving her a spanking. I just really have no idea how to train her.
Well, I miss you. Wish you were here.
I love you,
She came, and then we had to learn everything;
but the loving came oh so naturally
The baby who finally arrived
And another prose poem:
Bathby Amy LowellThe day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots. The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.