Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Presents? Oh Jack, You Know I Love Presents!

Those lines (or something similar to them) were uttered by the best soap opera diva *ever*, Erica Kane. Ever since then, when I think about gifts or presents, that's the first thing that comes to my head. Not very poetic.

Writers Island's prompt for the week was "The Gift." Since I clearly couldn't write about Erica and Jack, I was stumped. That is, until I took a walk this weekend to the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden and had a shift in focus. This poem is what resulted.

Present

Unable to escape my own stink
(last night's slick, oily residue
still clinging to my skin)

I decide to go outside.

Strap on my shoes, grab
my keys, and push my body
down the long hill, beside
my home. I burn

past the empty bar, the smoky
sour taint of pork ribs and cheap rum
flooding the sidewalk; past

the old man wheeling
a garbage can filled with crushed
soda cans, as he curses
no one in particular. I sprint

beneath the overpass, checking for lurking
vagrants and flocks of gray pigeons;
bus exhaust fumes float past me. Cross

the footbridge, a checkerboard
of morning sun and shadows, and hop
down the steep steps, into the park.

There, in the shadow of the fountain,
a flock of Canada geese
root for food. There must be
twenty or thirty at least, nipping

and nesting in the dew damp
grass. I walk quietly, stunned
at their silence, their elegant
movements. A pantomime. Sidestep

their green turds, their white tufts
of feathers, walk towards
the lavender and purple flowers
blooming on the trellis. I touch
their soft petals, their fragile
stamens, and hear

only my steady breath. I still
smell my own sour stink, know
I can't escape it. Still,
right now, every cell in my body
sings gratitude.

16 Comments:

Robin said...

What wonderfully vivid imagery. Your words paint a picture I can almost touch.

lissa said...

Wonderful poem. There's a wonderful rhythms to it.

Jo said...

Oh Jessica, this is fantastic....the rhythm carried me with you. I love this
'a checkerboard
of morning sun and shadows' and so much more.........I saw it all!

gautami tripathy said...

This poem offers so much more. What great imagery!

paris parfait said...

The imagery and contrast between ordinary life and finding gratitude in beholding the ordinary is wonderful.

tumblewords said...

Your choice of line breaks is superb. The breathless way you escape, each line deeper into the process until coming back to self, is perfect.

keith hillman said...

That was simply brilliant! The breathless yet effortless way you took us with you was shere magic!
Can anyone smell something?

kimberley said...

This is superb - really. The images, the movement along the path the speaker is on - just fantastic.

Jessica said...

Thanks for all the comments and for visiting. I appreciate the focus on the line breaks/movement of the poem (tumblewords & keith), because that is something I really strived for in the poem.

Sorry for the short resonse, but I'm off to read more Writers Island...

Marie said...

Hello! thanks for your thoughts on my post...it is nice to hear what a daughter thinks...

You have such a way with words which is why you are a poet...my favorite part of your poem was a checkerboard of morning sun...I could actually see you hopping down the steps like a little girl with her game...I'm so sad I've been too busy to do anything for Writer's Island! I'm back on it.
I finally got my book yesterday, it took 2 weeks! Talk to you soon.

Lea said...

So vivid and full of images that touched all my senses... beautiful!

Clare said...

I loved taking every step with you as I read your beautiful poem!! Wonderful details and images -- and I like that though the stink smell might still be there from the night before, it doesn't stop you from seeing and enjoying the world around you. Really nice!!
:)

Ashley Lyn said...

So wonderfully vivid, I feel as though I am there alongside you. Fantastic!

...deb said...

"movements. A pantomime. Sidestep", you have done some amazing things with line breaks. It could read like a narrative--the language is clear, no trickery here--but the lines lift it.


A PS--I have to admit to having a tough time with Bidart. I don't think I have time to go through Star Dust a second time, and I think I need it. :-) Ah, well, & I won't be checking in until the 25th, due to conflicts...

Jessica said...

Hi ...deb,

a reply to yr PS -- I was doing great until the massive epic poem at the end, and now I'm a bit stymied. I also think a second read would be good, but probably won't happen before Monday. :)

Donetta said...

Hello, I loved the "green turds", white tufts distracted into the flowers, thought and silence.