My husband and I are taking a week away to catch our breath after a very busy summer. We’re in a cabin in the woods in a tiny town in Tennessee. The shelves are scattered with mostly Lambuth University yearbooks (this building was once a biology field house for LU), but there also some other titles: a few Christian living type volumes, a couple of educational books, and a thick history text about the Civil War.
Idly, I ran my fingers over a row of unordered spines and commented, “I bet I could write a poem using just lines from these three books.” I randomly selected three titles and smirked at my husband. He agreed that I could probably do that, and then said, “Why don’t you?”
Yes, why don’t I?
I scribbled a lot of images this summer, lines and ideas skimmed from art museums, ancient history, and pedestrians in Madrid. However, I only wrote one poem while living in Spain. My brain has felt as disordered as the books on these shelves.
So I wrote a poem, using only lines from these three books:
And here is the rough draft I came up with…
Their wings beat independently,
sweet oil butterflies, the blue Mormon, red
admiral. Starting to spin navywide,
ruining himself with reckless day-
You can pardon or you can
punish that kind of holy communion.
Gallant, the caterpillar talking to Alice,
taking his troops to the front, starting
to spin, dramatic (and unreliable).
The unstable, often unhappy, solitary
feeder, silk spinner, impassioned speech,
a comma with wings. Wearing trousers
under her skirts, she was moved
to write a poem.
to sketch the inauguration, a series
of sketches, dramatic (and unreliable). Even
as a girl, a house servant, maid’s chores, her
charm was such a familiar melody. The time
the pupa stage, her basic makeup: a meat
eating moth. Leopards without spots, a romantic
dream of being that kind of holy
communion. Working under fire, behind
the lines, courtship…
It is very rare, the communication
of touching. The eggs of the owl butterfly
have delicate ribs, architects of the pleasure
he gets. He had inherited poverty
You can pardon
or you can punish.
The wrong pronoun