Please note: As I was drafting these poems, I experimented with white space on the page, in a way that is hard to showcase in a blog post. So, in each poems title, there is a link to a Microsoft Word (2007) document that shows the poems in the way that I intend.
Before Our Bones
Before all this, I believed our bodies were solid, our lives intact.
I was wrong; we are made of parts, poised between function & dysfunction.
Look at our bodies: our skin hides the fact of muscles and molecules.
Look at the home we share: painted over walls disguise beams and wires.
Look at our lives: conversations drown out the noise of hard-fought battle.
Together, we endured the whir of MRIs, white glare of X-rays.
We searched for fractures and malformations and asked to be repaired.
After uncovering all that lies inside, we can never go back.
After Our Skin
We thought healing happened from inside out, from bones to muscles and skin.
We were wrong; our skin knitted together so much faster than the bones.
What we repaired, what we rearranged, barely showed on the surfaces.
Over time, we swelled and shriveled, we healed and regressed; we adapted.
We told ourselves, we could never do this alone, live with this dull ache.
Now, we are left with the traces: pink scars, weak muscles, and fragile bones.
We take it easy, slow on the stairs and hills, as we build resistance.
We work hard, strengthening our structures, knowing that we will grow stronger.
4 down, 26 to go.
(3 on prompt, 1 off prompt.)
I am so very thankful for this NaPoWriMo prompt today, written by Nelle Lytle for Read Write Poem. In this prompt, Nelle suggests that we write an “inside out” or an “outside in” poem, however we interpret it. This suggestion pushed me to a pretty big breakthrough with the chapbook manuscript that I’ve been drafting.
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a chapbook manuscript in time for qarrtsiluni’s annual chapbook contest. I’ve been bringing together poems about my knee injury, my relationship with my husband, and my mermaid poems. Throughout this process, I’ve known instinctively how these poems work together, but I’ve struggled with how to bind them together. As I was explaining to a writing friend last night, it feels like I was lacking connective tissue.
Then, I read the prompt this morning. Each day, I’ve been reading the prompts first thing in the morning, so that my sleepy/subconscious brain can begin to mull over the prompt before my awake/conscious brain has a chance to work it to death. As I was going about my morning, I realized that I needed to write both an inside poem and an outside poem, to use as a frame for my manuscript.
Since I was still struggling with the ideas I wanted to express, I decided that each line would be an American sentence, so that I had an added element of form. I’ve found in the past that form has helped me when I’m not quite sure how I want to write something. By limiting my syllables, I’ve pushed myself to (hopefully) better language choices.
I’ve got to say, a few hours after finishing these poems, I’m still in awe of the way this prompt pushed me in a direction that I may not have found otherwise.
Today’s a day that I love poetry.