day 4: Self-Designed Part-Time 7-Day From Scratch With a Little Bit of Crazy Mixed In Writing Residency

St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris, fevers, and disasters. From wikimedia.

I’m starting to wonder if I really can do this for 7 days. The early mornings are starting to wear on me, although I’ve always done my best work in the early morning. I shall persevere.

Today’s draft used the “Five Easy Pieces” prompt from The Practice of Poetry (prompt by Richard Jackson). This prompt asks us to invent or remember a person you know well, and then to create a setting in which the poem’s speaker observes this person. In the poem, the poet should:

1. describe the person’s hands
2. describe something s/he is doing with the hands
3. use a metaphor to say something about some exotic place
4. mention what you want to ask the person in the context of 2 and 3 above
5. have the person look up or toward the poem’s speaker and answers in a way that suggests s/he only understands part of what is asked

I decided to imagine my mother’s hands performing some task of care for one of my children, which she did so often when I was too sick to do it myself. I wanted to explore the feeling of helplessness and relief I so often felt during those years of illness and small children. Helplessness at not being able to care for them myself; relief that someone else was there to do it.

The draft, called “Fever,” begins:

“When you re-read this story you’ll skip
the midnight chapter of your mother’s hands
webbed into cradle over the kitchen sink, holding

a baby taut with fever…”

I had to work at this one. It came slowly. I used a wordbank from Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (I wrote about this book here): plead, blindfold, tremble, taut, brim, geography. The question I wanted to ask (#4) in the poem is: Who is the patron saint of fevers? The answer in the draft is not comforting, but in real life the patron saint of fevers is St. Genevieve, in case you’re wondering.

I’m still finding it hard to resist the temptation of peeking at the four drafts I have so far. Four down, three to go, *hot weather forecasted and a busy weekend coming up. Oh, Poetry, if I didn’t love you so much I’d leave you flat and sleep more :).

See you tomorrow for day 5 of this adventure.

*P.S. “Hot” weather here is anything above 80 degrees, so don’t feel too sorry for us.

3 thoughts on “day 4: Self-Designed Part-Time 7-Day From Scratch With a Little Bit of Crazy Mixed In Writing Residency

  1. Love this prompt. Your poem looks like it’s probably awesome. Gotta add this one to pile for the weekend–I will be alone, so I’m going to squish as many of your “writing residency” days into my three days as I can!

    Oh, and it’s hot down here too. Triple digits. Ugh.

    • Alone!? Yes, squish them all in! Hope it’s a very productive weekend for you.

      And triple-digits….. you can see what a weather wimp I am….. 84 just about did me in yesterday.

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