In this workshop Roy uses the poetry of Abegail Morley and
Sarah James information on purchasing copies of their collections can be found in Related Links at the bottom of the post.
Wow, after that incredible and powerful poem that you’ve written (Being There Workshop), let’s write I miss you poems, how do we say I miss you, that sings a litany, a beautiful melody so far removed from tireless clichés, this is the one, this is where we write them into life, we go back to those beautiful moments and make time stop or we create a sliding doors (the movie or alternative universe) moment as in this wonderful poem by Abegail Morley from The Skin Diary
Before you write off your imaginary sister
remember how she didn’t take her blunt playschool scissors
to your Tiny Tears doll, didn’t lop off a curl,
how it didn’t make you cry for three nights in a row,
your only consolation, not inviting a mantra to your lips:
You are not my sister, you are not my sister.
Think of that night she wasn’t at the tap-end
of the bath, not blowing bubbles through her fingers,
not sloshing them over your face, how water didn’t slop
over the bath’s rim, how you didn’t slip
when your mother hugged you out in a towel.
Memorise how she didn’t cuddle close for those stories,
clap when they escaped the Gingerbread House. Learn how
she didn’t travel with you on the school bus, wasn’t there
when you rubbed your fingers over the invisible bruise
that couldn’t yellow on your thigh, wasn’t bashed by her bag.
Before you know it, she’s not at your wedding,
taking the posey from your nervous hands, doesn’t smile
when she doesn’t do it. Bear in mind she didn’t
have a look in her eyes when she didn’t hold your son
in her arms in amazement. Learn by heart those miles
she couldn’t take because you couldn’t call her at two a.m.
thinking he might die from colic. Remember how
she doesn’t say she loves you more than ever, and how
desperate that cannot make you feel. And know now
all you can say is, I miss you, I miss you.
Find an arc in your poems from the first stanza that sets up the premise you are not my sister, you are not my sister to the pay back, I miss you, I miss you.
Or this gorgeous (can you hear my Craig Revel Horwood impression) poem from Sarah James Plenty-Fish
I found it this morning: a single pink bootee
gaping white like an empty shell.
When I see flowers,
or bonnets and frilly dresses
next to the boys’ dungarees
I picture you.
You should be grown tall by know.
But I can still hold you: fosilled
fragments from the scan cupped
in my hand: small as a bullet,
or hole in the heart.
I imagine dark curls and shy smile,
though when you speak,
it’s merely an echo of their toddler talk.
I write this to you,
my child that never was,
I write it for me –
though words won’t bend
to explain that longing for you,
I love the boys no less.
So, as I fold away bibs and bodysuits
And bag up blue for my friends,
The pink of your bootee creases my thoughts.
I ought to throw it, finish this, say goodbye…
Instead, I reach up, hide it high
In a cupboard my sons must never find.
Write them, write their beautiful stories, you don’t need a prompt for this one.
We started with objects at the beginning, so let’s finish with the idea of what we possess after our loved ones have passed away, and again explore beyond the normal aspects of gift, but maybe they left you with a burden, left you with a secret, left you with a joke, left with your beautiful memories; the page is yours.
Buy The Skin Diary by Abegail Morley here
Buy Plenty Fish by Sarah James here