Poetry Uncategorized Writing

Why do I bother writing poetry?

Short answer — I don’t really know.

Not only do I write poems, I put them out there in the big, bad world for others to criticise, ponder and maybe enjoy. I can’t help myself. I see, hear, smell, touch, feel and words gather inside pushing me to put pen to paper.

I’m not a great poet, probably not even a good one. That doesn’t bother me (though I do want to improve my craft) because I just want to communicate with you; let you into my world and understand yours.

Writing poetry condenses feeling, sharpens vision, alerts all senses to a fragment of time, of memory. It sees and hears with wondrous acuity the natural world we so take for granted.

Reading poetry moves you to cry, to smile, to laugh, to see reality from odd angles through the prisms of metaphor and simile. Truth shines out and for a moment your eyes and heart are touched with sunlight, or shadow. Poetry immerses you in the moment and allows you to be present in each phrase. Each word carefully chosen to say the most possible, and impossible.

This morning I read a very good article bout how and why to write poetry on the Poetry Foundation site..How to make a poem BY Cm Burroughs  I read each poem hyperlinked in the article’s body ad tasted someone else’s reality; saw new, different realities. In the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden I cried for the father’s aloneness in his thankless world, for the caring routine of his thoughtfulness. I cried because this was not my experience.

After reading the article I sat a bit, cried a bit more asking, ‘Why, why, why?’ Then, I moved on; read some more Facebook posts. A photo of an old bottle tree  by Chris Grealy leapt out at me. I had to jot down the resulting flow of words or feel all the poorer for its loss. It is a rough, first draft of not something I have experienced but something I felt. That old bottle tree evoked something (an epigenetic memory perhaps). Join me in the tree’s shade and see how it makes you feel.

Bottled Memories

That old bottle tree
has been there since before my birth
Mum says it was old when she was young
its shade providing cool relief
to old bones aching from back-breaking
labour in the sun
her mum provided tea and damper
in a wicker hamper worked by her mum’s
arthritic claws: rip, twist, bend, pull
days and weeks of love’s painful labour.

That old bottle tree
is part of my family’s history
its many tortuous branches have
significance to me deeper than
you know, deeper than words
stories told around a campfire
a missing limb is Uncle Jim
went to war, seen no more
notches on its trunk the
measure of sons of sons
growing as tall as the tales told.

That old bottle tree
though gnarled and arthritic
still stands tall, a symbol
its head is going bald and thin
its shadow may be weaker but
its embrace is stronger, longer
than you can understand. Give
me your hand, touch the trunk
feel that vibration, feel that life
feel that love, laughter, tears, years
That old bottle tree is part of me.

(c) Rosa Christian