Pentaglottis sempervirens

Sometimes, there’s an idea that just never gels satisfactorily into a poem and the only thing to do is forget it and move on.

Sometimes I manage to produce a semi-successful version of a piece but still feel there’s another – and potentially better – way of dealing with the same material, which I haven’t managed to make work.

That’s the case with this poem, which I think I first attempted fifteen years ago:

The spaces between

The heart nests in the bone tree.
She chatters idly, then sings
when the sun touches her. In Spring
she seeks a mate, peeping
from behind a complex foliage
of words and silences.

The original version sprawled for some 30 or 40 lines, but it simply wasn’t working, so I hacked and slashed at it and eventually produced the above six-line poem. That was ten or more years ago and I was relatively happy with it. Even so, the longer version still niggles in my memory.

As I haven’t been been producing much new writing recently, I decided to see if I could find the original and do something with it.

Of course it’s not on my current laptop, so I had to go back to an old and unreliable external drive, and when I finally tracked it down I found it had been written using software I no longer own. I could open the file, but there were pages and pages of unreadable text.

This is just a fragment of that text and I’m not sure how it could be read aloud. I suspect, though, that it’s probably more attractive than much of the poetry written nowadays:

unreadable text

I was wondering what photo I could use to illustrate this post when I came across the flower in the picture up above. It occurred to me that I might talk about survival against the odds: the plant is managing to survive in a difficult situation, the poem is striving to survive despite being abandoned over a decade ago, and survival might also be seen as one of the themes of the poem.

Then I remembered taking a picture of a plant on the same wall sometime in the past. Looking back through blog posts, I find that in fact it was a convolvulus and I included the photo in the post upgrades and improvements, almost a year ago.

Oddly, that post also deals with looking back at early works and finding computer files full of noise and control characters. It seems that not only am I writing very little, but that I am a creature of habit and the little I am writing is derivative. I suppose I can at least console myself that it seems to be derivative of my own writing.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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