A New Skin (a poem)

Recently, I had the supreme pleasure of participating in a workshop (I actually organized the workshop, because when you are a poet in a small community and you want to go to a workshop, sometimes this is what you must do) by the incomparable Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy, among others.  If you haven’t had the pleasure, you really must contact her immediately and find out when her next workshop is.  If you live on the other side of the world, then at the very least purchase a copy of poemcrazy and give yourself over to Susan’s completely accessible yet infinitely wise approach to the creative process.

Sgoat rock beachomething magical happens in these workshops.  Somehow, as Susan stands barefoot on a couch waving an uncapped marker and making birdcalls out the window (eliciting an outburst of raucous barking from a nearby dog – and believe me this is all part of Susan’s plan), I forget myself.  I forget that I call myself “a poet” and that my poems are supposed to be perfect, profound, and publishable.  I forget that since my mom died I have written about virtually nothing else, that my notebook is now a jumbled collection of brooding snippets into which I hope may someday waft a whiff of redemption, at which time I may or may not organize said snippets into a pseudophilosophical collection that I most definitely will not call The Mother.  I am reminded that I am a writer because I love words, that when I find the right ones, and put them in the right order, it inexplicably makes me a better human being.  

The following is a poem written at our recent workshop; it is virtually unedited from when I scribbled it in my notebook that day.  Susan led us in generating a “wordpool,” a list she wrote on an oversized piece of paper taped to the screen of our hostess’s TV.  The words were gathered from various publications that Susan distributed , urging us to comb through them, find words we liked, and call them out to her so she could add them to the “wordpool.”  We were then given a prompt (“my shadow says…”) and asked to use those words in a piece of spontaneous writing.  I have underlined the wordpool words and prompt so readers can appreciate the process and see how working from a list of words can take one’s writing in unexpected directions. 

A NEW SKIN

In the molten coastlight
of moon on sand
my shadow says to me,
“You don’t listen.”

Erasing those bruises
to discover what’s left whole,
what’s worth saving,
is no work of vanity.

Still, as if plucked
from the seamless water,
my shadow shivers.
Digressing currents bring snatches of empty envy,
inexplicable loss

“I am sorry,” I say
even though it isn’t a crime
to not know better.

Unearthing this blame
is the beginning.

The rest
is up to the moon.

Written at Poemcrazy workshop, 4-18-14, from the prompt, “My shadow says….”
Wordpool words underlined

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