I have barely written a single creative word since last April. Yet here I am, on the eve of National Poetry Month, feeling something like…enthusiasm?…to tackle another poem-a-day challenge. As in previous years, I plan to use prompts from both NaPoWriMo.net and my local poetry group’s 30/30 challenge in order to generate the poems. I aim to write something every day, though not necessarily post here every day. If pandemic life has taught me one thing, it’s the importance of embracing both uncertainty and flexibility.
I chose this photo, more for the title of the piece and the description than the actual image. Then a draft came out. Whether or not I will ever shape the poem into something more is a six-months-from-now decision, after the words have settled.
Cosmetic Vessel in the Shape of a Cat
Where cosmetic implies to beautify
improve the face not just of the body
but of things as they seem
impress with transformation
superficial dusting that somehow
makes me feel more here
the shape of a cat is some classic ideal
grace unmatched but mystery too
the way the lithe muscles of a back
in motion, toward prey or affection
convey a power I have yet to hold
how a vessel is a place to contain
something utilitarian, necessary
or simply coveted and kept
a swift vowel switch and
vassal I become to perfection
For the penultimate day of National Poetry Month, I used the NaPoWriMo.net prompt to write a response to a Sylvia Plath poem. Mine is not so much a response, as a stream of consciousness something-or-other that came from the line “Where do the black trees go that drink here?” from Plath’s poem “Crossing the Water.”
In a gift shop, I tell my friend about my recent obsession with bare branches.
I want to possess them in paintings, necklaces, a metal wall sculpture.
It’s the bud of spring here, and the trees are betraying this admiration.
Abandoning their minimalist life for something with more promise.
The birds, of course, rejoice, but it’s harder to see them in an elm, full plumage.
Harder to watch the small red chest of the robin shrink and puff just before he offers his melodic warble.
I imagine the solitude of a forest, fresh from a fire. Destroyer, perhaps, but purifier too.
It takes years before those charred, naked sticks are overtaken by new growth.
So many years, I could forget how to drink that stark beauty.
Today’s prompt called for an “abundance” poem. Since it’s been winter for weeks where I live, I was immediately reminded of the abundance of snow. By January, I will surely be sick of it. But for now I can still appreciate the beauty.
If there’s a distinction between an abundance, and too much, I cannot find it in this snow. It’s been going since yesterday, lazy tufts of cotton white, falling, falling, falling. It’s making me lazy too, my limbs soft but heavy as I ready myself for bed. How many hours did I spend today just watching it meander and puff? Top each fence post with a rounded white cap. Sugar coat the branches of the fir tree — the one the original owners of this house told us they planted the week they moved in. Our street, normally quiet, has been even more so today. The snow covered sidewalk unmarred, the road branded with the intentions of only a few passing cars. Everything is softened with the blessing of snow. Even the biting wind has been hushed by the lullaby.