Welcome back to another Roy McFarlane workshop, get your pens and hearts ready as we explore the ‘Physical, tangible & unforgettable’ – you can almost taste the poems you are about to write already!
If possible you will need a large sheet of paper (A3)
In this workshop Roy uses Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss and his own poem The Map of your Leg
Physical, tangible and unforgettable
Physical markers that connect us to those we’ve lost; the way we might look like an individual or the spitting image, the sayings and proverbs that we promised we would never repeat, the marks we wished we had that would remind of us them.
Stretch Marks from Her Birth by Rebecca Goss
My swims kept those scars at bay,
Two thousand lengths it took, to form
My mapless globe. No trace she was here,
Her travels around me refused to surface
As she divided between poles, lapped
That black belly ocean. Once born, meridian
Of my achievements, she went off course.
I followed her divergent route, but this was not
Her geography. I have wished for them,
A record of her tracks, all snowed over, gone.
Read an extract from Rebecca Goss of the journey for putting this poem together from poetry archive; ‘I did an awful lot of swimming through both my pregnancies to keep fit…and I didn’t get any stretch marks – but after Ella died, I really wished I had some stretch marks…physical branding to prove that I had her…’ please read the rest of this introduction.
My poem The map of your leg begins with;
In hospital your legs are unusually dry
after a weekend lying in bed,
The scene is set for an intimate mother and son moment, where the son creams her mother’s legs and notice her scars, all with their different story to tell.
There’s a survey of marks across your legs
Mapping time and continents,
The basin of scar on your shin bone
That carries you back to the teenager
Daring to backchat your mother…
And the stories that are told, until we’re brought back to the present moment, especially the blemishes of darkness where the most important thing to be said is the most difficult thing to be said.
And you ask me
What have they done to me?
The chemotherapy? The radiation?
they’ve told me that these are the signs
of the cancer returning again.
I continue creaming your skin
But I can’t tell you yet.
The easiest way to do this, is to possibly draw the outline of a body on A3 paper and mark the scars on the body you remember, describe how they look, be inventive, and then tell the story.
Remember, think big, we’re looking at stretch marks, scars, beauty marks, (lets stretch this further), have a look at parts of the body as in Elaine Feinstein Hands, or the lack of certain body parts go for it make it unforgettable.
Hands by Elaine Feinstein can be read here
Her Birth is available to buy and is currently on offer (10%) discount. Her Birth Carcanet
Listen to the poem here http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/rebecca-goss