Read the full post here.
Featured participants Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen and Amita Paul.
Our featured online journal for the day is Okay Donkey, I’ll point you to Audrey Hall’s “Old Man in the Kitchen,” and Amorak Huey’s “A Small, Private Sadness.”
Today’s prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
I enjoyed the fun of Jacqui Dempsey-Cohen’s poem, although it was Facebook – so I had to resist all temptation to catch up on there! Some of my favourite examples:
I enjoyed the scene described in Amita Paul’s poem and felt incredibly sorry for the grandmother. A very translatable scene! I have a dear memory of our own Great Aunty being wrapped up in curly chord by a then three year old great-great nephew! She was golden, just sat there and let the play happen!
while some of her progeny’s progeny and their progeny
tumble all over her in an excess of affection and youthful exuberance.
I know Okay Donkey and have them listed to submit to. I am very good at letting deadlines whoosh past and since March haven’t submitted anywhere due to life intervening the way it does and the places it leaves us in.
Old Man in the Kitchen by Audrey Hall, a poem which moved me, especially as the last one reminded me of a relative we have recently lost. The passing is heroic and Biblical, the relationship explored so succinctly.
Take the soggy reins dangling
from your veiny hands
away from Sunday breakfast.
I do not need you to split
this egg on the pan’s edge
or slice this banana into circles.
and brambles crowning your corpse.
A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey – at least the title prepared me for the deep inhalations I knew I’d have. This poem brims with sadness and loss.
& this breeze hums your name
& pat a space next to them on the bed
& the temperature falls
& out beyond the pines
a great lake churns & churns.
The aisling is a poetic genre I know. I was taken by some of Maureen’s suggestions on this prompt:
a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.
- Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights,
- or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops.
- Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves.
So my plan was to go and have a think about who my woman might be – but at the same time I am tempted to skip straight to one of these suggestions.
I came up with 5 possible women (I think I will return to the list and write an aisling for each of them in the future).
Fairly sure Bus Stops were in my head from the suggested ideas but also we have a bus station that despite several revamps ours had some of the old metal bus stands for a while. All updated now, but it amused me the gradual update and how the customer bit came after the rest.
I also have this internal conflict that I moved and lived all over for a decade and when I came back to the county, I promised myself I would live close to but not in the town I was born in. I did for several years and then I met Mr G. and the rest is history.
And today… I am going to share the whole poem!
The Waiting Lady of Green Metal Bus Stops
I used to see you half your life ago, longer –
you’d sit and wait on narrow seats,
head full of thought.
Your frustration of lateness,
your willing belief in the public transport system.
You who saw past the old, green metal bus stands
and looked instead to the sweep of branches
the bank of grass, who would canter over
to the brook to watch water flow over stones.
And read and re-read the timetable
despite knowing your schedule by heart.
I watched you pick at conversations
from those bus stop strangers,
how the ideas would elongate in your mind,
you’d carry them onto the bus
(when it eventually turned up), like precious
cargo, in case you spilled a line before
you reached your destination,
the city of Worcester.
Well, I’m still here and after you
moved away I saw other girls like you,
heads full of dreams, ambitions to leave
this town behind them.
You always knew the pull of this place,
your analogy was more a spider’s web
and trapped flies – but you see the beauty
now you’ve lived in cities without
stars and trees.
You came back to the green, to countryside
and small market towns, to urban sprawl
and this battered, old, bus terminal.
You admired the new digital destination board,
the ever changing roads around this space,
and smiled when you saw the old, familiar
bus stands. I am here to remind you
of this love. Of the attraction of home,
of the importance of roots –
and no matter how bad you think it’s got,
at least you’re not stuck forever
at the Bus Station, waiting.