I loved this post at Barb Riley’s Written Not With Ink about “white space” in art and poetry, “the things unfinished and things left unsaid.”
“I’ve been spending more time reading poetry lately, and finding myself drawn to the absence of explanation on the page. In an age where answers are one millisecond away by the gods of google, my soul longs to contemplate the unknown.”
The gods of google, indeed, our magic answer machine supplying the ends of questions even before we’ve finished asking them.
The post reminded me of a poem from my MFA thesis, which I’ll share here because it’s Friday, and Friday is for poems. The challenging thing, for me, about sharing poems I wrote long ago is resisting the temptation to get in there and tinker some more, but I’ll resist and present this as I wrote it at age 23.
Still new at this, I cannot grant my hand
The freedom Porter’s “stroke” and “glide” suggest;
I’m scared to wreck a curve with poor command
Of pencil. “Loosen up!” he barks. “It’s just
A sketch. In here there’s no such thing as ‘messed
Up’.” But that bristly frown belies
Him. I lose the body’s edge. And paper snags
My lead; now nervous dashes fleck the sides
Of my drawing’s head. Above her sausage legs
And torso jut two arms like long thin bags
Of bread, lumpy and stiff. At least—thank God—
The model’s clothed. Too much, to spoil the grace
The undraped body wears.
……………………………………..Start over. See not
The model but the shape she prints on space,
My gentle dream instructor guides. Just trace
The edge your eye perceives. Porter fades
Like graphite dust—for just a flicker,
I can see it—No—It’s lost. He strides
To easel, flashes out an arm. The figure
Rippling from his charcoal pencil lifts her
Perfect arms and twirls and sings, “Like this!
Like this!” That’s it. I’ve had enough.
I snatch up my things.
My stool rings out against the floor,
Porter’s like a grizzly in the doorway.
Something shifts—the light, my gaze—
I’ve a sudden view of him an empty white,
A pattern cut from cloth of students, tables, wall.
The blank slivers of his beard pierce the quiet air.
Astonishing and lovely is the shape he’s left behind.
This week’s Poetry Friday roundup appears at A Teaching Life.
Rose’s Favorite Poem
poetry friday: “America, why are your libraries full of tears?”
“Fortify Your Inner Life”
Commonplace Book: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Poetry As Insurgent Art