Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Near the end of March, when I saw my writing pals' posts on Facebook regarding National Poetry Month and their upcoming endeavors to write poems every day during the month of April, I'm pretty sure my face turned greenish-white. And I'm pretty sure I shut my laptop quickly, hoping that would help me un-see how so many other people are sticking to this rigorous tradition known as NaPoWriMo.

The "bad" news is, I'm exhausted. I'm nearly finished with my first year at Binghamton University and I can tell you earnestly that the Ph.D. program I have selected not only sets no bounds on how intensely you'd like to write or study literature and theory, it also cures insomnia (which is the good news). Almost every night, I've been falling into bed giggling deliriously because I'm so glad to be able to rest. Between teaching, reading, taking courses, editing, running, writing, workshopping, attending readings, grading, and taking care of my pets, and the occasional break for trying out a new recipe, I feel as if I'm light years beyond having to schedule time for meals.

Right now, technically, I'm using a few minutes from my scheduled office hours to type this. And I need to get back to work. But I thought I'd post a poem I wrote this morning (and no, I am not doing NaPoWriMo this year - instead, I'm taking a workshop class with Maria Gillan, which uses a more tried-and-true method of pumping poems out eight at a time) because it's in my pocket waiting to be revised.

I'm posting this mostly because my friend Lish McBride just put something up on her Facebook page about my blog, and I said to myself, "self, when was the last time you posted on that thing?" So, enjoy. And I hope, if any of the kids I grew up with read this poem, they realize that this was my experience of the events going on around us when we were small, and that I loved all of them.

Happy Poetry Month,
Abby


THE POND

We called ourselves the Lost Boys
even though Frankie, Dylan, and Nick
knew they were running around the neighborhood
with girls: me, Tina, and Lisa, Michelle,
Angie, Amanda, and the twins, Erin and Leila.
We scooped a hole under the chain link fence
around a sewage swamp we called The Pond,
stripped the bronze fuzz off cattails and dubbed it wool,
collected tadpoles and named them
as they sunk to the bottom
            of the coffee mugs we caught them in.
We understood every body of water
concealed a large animal in its depths, and The Pond
contained a bullfrog the size of a cantaloupe. 
When Angie dove beneath the surface
where the reeds were thinnest and the sun
sprawled like oil under a net of crane flies,
everyone standing in the mud remembered
how her father had been caught
below an overturned fishing boat in Alaska
only five years earlier and never came up.
Dylan, her brother, still four years away
from dying on a freeway off ramp,
put his fists in the air and screamed
and so did we, calling for Angie in the underworld,
where we knew she kept her eyes open.
The Pond belched her up
like a lotus flower,
the white of her t-shirt only muted by strings of algae
and thick water running off a muddy stone
she held above her head, its four distinct legs
slapping at her wrists. When she dropped it
it bounced off her shoulder into the water.
We saw ripples moving toward the drainpipe.
Everyone wanted to touch Angie on the walk home,
help brush the slime off her back
or pull weeds from her hair,
our throats rubbed soft as frayed rope
in the scrawny hollows of our necks.