Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Weight of Trees

A note to begin
This is the final poem in The Starbucks Poetry Project blog. I have been writing twice a week for 6 months and have loved the challenge, the discipline, and the resulting work. I’ve also loved hearing from readers; it’s a great privilege to know my art has had an impact. I’m hoping to extend my reach by getting this collection into print… and into a coffee shop near you. Stay tuned, and thanks so much for sharing this space with me.

Overheard: Discussion between two people in their 20s who used to date:
Her: Is she your girlfriend?
Him: Um, I guess. I mean she lives in a different country, but yes.

Where it took me: I used a writing exercise that asks the writer to juxtapose two very different objects. There are lots of ways to find your objects, but I took ‘long-distance relationship’ from the overheard line and, after a long walk in my neighbourhood, the recent ice storm in Toronto as the other object. I used one of my favourite techniques, the scramble, to write the story before pairing all the first lines, second lines, and third lines. As I had hoped, breaking apart the lines this way forced the similarities between the ice storm and relationships to the fore in a very satisfying way.

The poem

The Weight of Trees

I walk the valley
in search of destruction:
branches in pieces,
power lines sailor-knotted.
Cub-scout badges
against the storm.

Eight days now.
Neatly trimmed and bundled,
life by the curb, changed completely.
I thought I wanted
the weight of trees.

White towels whip from sagging wires:
caution, or surrender.
I resist the pull.
A train wreck, but I’m struck.
How we remain connected.
How intricately we are strung.

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