As today, the first day of NaBloPoMo, strolled on, I became less and less sure about my decision to do this thing. I had to teach two classes tonight. I did housework and played with my daughter all day. I didn't feel like writing a poem. Didn't even feel like turning on my computer.
I came home to find my husband had borrowed my power supply for some big computer job he has cooking in the basement. That helped. We're both only children. We have that rivalry, that "my stuff, your stuff" thing going on (sometimes). I demanded my stuff back. Actually, I asked nicely. I NEED to write tonight, I told him.
Here's how I did it. I picked up a Mary Oliver book. Opened to a random poem, read the title "The Best I Could Do,"and the first few lines, and let my imagination do the rest. I was totally surprised at the poem that came out. Surprised, and actually pleased that I took the time to write a new one, instead of typing something from my journal, which is my plan for this month--to bring out of the darkness of my journals and yellow legal pads the poems I have written but never typed.
It is a first draft, except for a couple things. After I typed it as one long poem, I broke it into stanzas. I also tried something new (new for me), I used the first line as the title. Critique & comments, please!
The skin and ribs dog
sat alone on the stub of a hill
behind the neighbor’s pink house.
Wouldn’t you beg too if your owners
tethered you day and night
silver bowl bottoms gleaming
sunlight straight through to moonbeam,
behind a princess colored shack?
Stay the hell away from that dog,
my father warned,
as if the animal’s hunger,
his teeth baring desire for food
might wound me.
What did I know?
Eleven years old,
belly full of love notes
and eighth grade graduation gowns.
Daily, I snuck the poor dog scraps.
Nightly, I waited for dad
to ask about school,
about John Paul,
about the way my hair,
long enough, yesterday
to wrap twice around my middle,
today hung greedily at my throat.
Finally, one night he bit.
All yellow eyes and cold meatloaf,
growling through saliva born of starvation,
his canines sunk into my hand.
I told you not to feed that damn dog,
my father barked all the way to the hospital.
With gratitude I howled,
as the last stitch filled
the tooth size hole in my palm,
Thank you for letting me do this one thing
I wasn’t supposed to do.