Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Poem and the Story Behind It

This week, like so many before it, has been full of constraints upon my time. Please pardon again as I dive into my archives for post material.

I will, once more, share a poem of mine.

But first, let me tell the the story behind it. This poem was a rarity. It sprang to mind fully formed and was completed in somewhere around fifteen minutes from start to finish. With the addition of a few crucial line breaks, the first draft looks more less exactly the same way as the finished product presented below you.

I wrote it about a friend of mine I had in college. She had a child at seventeen and harbored a tremendous amount of resentment towards both the biological father, and sadly, the child herself. One morning, after staying the night on a futon bed in the den as I often did, I awoke early in the morning to find both mother and child still sleeping. At some point during the day, my friend had left open a drawer of her large wooden computer desk, and on my way sleepily to the kitchen to make coffee I couldn't help but notice layer upon layer of neatly folded, perfectly arranged mementos resting there. It looked a bit like a tomb to me, as though the drawer was meant to be preserved under glass and rarely opened.

As I peered downward, what really grabbed my attention was seeing the actual cocktail napkin upon which the biological father had written his number (I recognized his name, of course), wherever it had been that they presumably had met all those years ago. She had kept it. She had kept it all, really. And you'd never know it by talking to her personally. In many ways she was a secretive person and I didn't mean to intrude upon her privacy, but I was struck by both the beauty and the tragedy at once, then, with that mad compulsion common to all writers, ran quickly to my notebook and jotted down my precise observations.


My dear sweet child
How do I tell you
You came about one fateful, boozy night

Whose memories are now only
A man’s name
A phone number
Scrawled across a
Stained cocktail napkin

Buried in a drawer
Deep beneath old photographs
Newspaper clippings
Ticket stubs

The dandruff of selves I once was

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