I mentioned the conversation that triggered my wanting to write this piece in the post of poetry, maths and cars. Although it’s still no more than a fragment, it seems to have reached that annoying stage where it’s settled and doesn’t want to be shifted, although I am not happy with it.
The road stretches long into the night.
To their left, the belisha globe of the moon
rises behind mountains made ragged
by pines. He says, I’ve driven
to the moon and back three times at least.
She watches his steady hands on the wheel
and hopes he’ll take her with him next time.
It starts with a cliché: roads stretching ahead and symbolising the future, the journey of life etc have been done so often that it’d be very difficult to produce something new.
“steady hands” is also a cliché, as is the longer phrase “steady hands on the wheel”. I want to give the impression of his competence and reliability and her (possibly new or growing) trust and confidence in him. But I don’t want to have to spell it out. This is when clichés are all too tempting.
I’m not sure about the “belisha globe of the moon”. I’m pretty sure it can’t be accused of being a cliché, but does it work, even for those who know what a Belisha beacon is? (That’s probably a very limited subset of international readers. Should I worry about that if they can look it up?) Other than being a big pale amber globe, one of the characteristics of a Belisha beacon is that it flashes. Does the moon in the poem have enough in common with the beacons to make it a suitable adjective?
Things I am particularly not happy about include:
And so it goes on. No wonder Paul Valery said, “a poem is never finished, only abandoned.”