Thursday, August 09, 2007

Must be up to eight by now...

... this Guardian Workshop is by far the most interesting that was ever set so far, for me anyway. These prompts are each a gift in their own right, as you sit down to interrogate the whys and wherefores of each one. In the CW course that I'm doing we're at the life-writing stage, which offers two paths: one of autobiography and one of biography.

Of course the biography seemed more appealing, because you didn't have to worry so much about emotional overburdening of the material, but having said that, I did want to investigate some autobiography, especially looking back to my grandparents who are both dead over ten years now.

That's why some of these poems seem like gifts: they're the combination of remembered detail and imagined aspects that spring forward out of the Graham lines -I'm finding that I seem to be writing by rote, if I use the interrogations and the imagined memories. Could be a title yet!

The Dairy Shed

Whatever you’ve come here to get
is forgotten as the fly-screen door
slams shut behind you. The squat
wooden barrel of the butter churn
calls you to peer inside.

One-eyed, you spy the spider’s home
and retreat. Wooden butter paddles
left by with long grooves, you feel by touch
how they’d grip the butter, shaping a pat;
creamy yellow and soft squidginess,
a small dollop tasting like buttercup

The top shelf of the dresser
coddles a crowd of tall-necked blue
bottles gawking at the willow plate,
disapproving of Koon Shee and Chang,
their doves taking off soon over
the weeping willows and beyond the dresser.

Below, the illicit small white bottle of poitín,
for rubbing its fire into new-born calves,
kicking the life into them when dawn
threatens a steal. You remember now;

the yellow corn meal, and grab a handful
from the yawning hessian sack, into the bowl
with boiled potato skins. The secret
ingredient to the hen’s deep golden yolks.


chiefbiscuit said...

Yum! Love that poem ... I remember butter being made into pats. And I love the description of the Willow pattern plate. You have captured the child's slow, meditative taking in of ordinary household objects perfectly.

Carole said...

Wow! You have been productive writing all these poems. I like the 'yellow boots' poem the best. It's imagery is deliciously concentrated.

Rob said...

Some good bits in this one. Maybe needs cut in S2 and S3?

Only two to go though...

Cailleach said...

Thanks CB & Carole, I think yellow boots works best because it was found, and here I was deliberately trying to reclaim memories - it's hard to tell without some distance and I'd know better in a month or two. Rob you are right about needing some pruning shears... and the last two will have to wait until tomorrow as I have to make a mercy dash to the airport and be nice to my poor husband who's been in Germany on business, although I suspect that any sympathy that he may be in need of, he may not be entirely deserving of. ;)
An-y-way, it has been tremendous fun doing these! Thanks to all who commented, very instructive :)

apprentice said...

I think the shut up one is fabulous. I love the last line in it.

This is a beautiful tapestry of memories

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

That poem was coloured yellow all through - lovely, rich imagery, Barbara.

Cailleach said...

Thanks Apprentice -I was a bit worried about the shut up one, not sure whether it's a keeper or not. It's growing on me.

AVA, believe it or not, yellow and all it's variants are one of my favourite colours :)