Yesterday, I went to Valleyfair (theme park) with Randy and Maddie. It was a gorgeous day, high 60s and sunny, and the park was practically empty.
No lines for anything–even the big coasters! We rode and ate and laughed–and I worked on my poem.
Sadly, even with taking Dramamine, I get queasy after a certain number or certain kind of roller coasters. And there are some rides I just plain hate, like giant swings.
So while Randy and Maddie enjoyed THOSE rides, I hit the bathroom, freshened up my Chapstick, and worked on my poem.
I had printed out the original poem I needed to take a line from plus the captions that go along with some of the photos in Magnus Wennman’s Where the Children Sleep exhibit. I have written a couple poems paired with his images (see one here), and I think I will do another one for this month’s Poetry Princesses poem. So I printed out the captions to help me remember some of the images I could choose from.
By the time we left, I had written 5 or 6 drafts.
All of these were written to a heartbreaking Wennman photo of a small girl sleeping in the forest. The caption reads: Lamar left her dolls, toy train, and ball back home in Baghdad, Iraq. She often talks about these items when home is mentioned. One bomb changed everything. Her family was on its way to buy food when a bomb was dropped close to their house. “It was not possible to live there anymore,” says Lamar’s grandmother, Sara. After two attempts to cross the sea from Turkey in a small rubber boat, they have made it to the Hungarian border. Now Lamar sleeps on a blanket in the forest, scared, frozen, and sad.
I started out with the line I was using in my earlier drafts, and the poem described the setting and the situation. It was third-person, which I think will be necessary in this form because of the lines available to me (since I want it to be about a child, but the vocab of the original poem is not childlike). But it felt too distant and cliche: “though stars are adazzle/her heart is dim.”
I scribbled three drafts still using that same line “with swift, slow, sweet, sour, adazzle, dim.” I just wasn’t happy with it.
So I decided to try a new line: “fresh-firecoal, chestnut falls, finches’ wings”
Right away, this felt more immediate. These were specific words, and I tried to put myself in that forest a teeny bit. Tried to imagine the nightmare of living that way. And after three drafts with this line, I have:
In each sleep, the horror is fresh
staring, glaring eyes like firecoal
a roar hungry for more than bark and chestnut
and the beast feeds on broken finches
She dreams of wings
It still needs work, but I do like this best of what I’ve written so far. I want to work on the sounds, especially.
But not bad work, I thought, for a day at the theme park:>)