Today's poetry prompt is from my friend, artist and poet, Janice Windle. "DAY 6 NOVEMBER
Imagine that you meet yourself when much younger than you are now and write a poem about the experience.
This could take the form of a dialogue between your two “selves” or a narrative including a context for the meeting. Would your younger self be disappointed by, proud of, satisfied with, relieved by, shocked or amazed at, approving, disapproving of the way your personality and outlook has developed since you were, say, eighteen? Would your present self be surprised, ashamed, proud, envious, disapproving, approving, of your younger self? Would the two personae get on? what issues would they agree/disagree on? How confrontational would the meeting be?
If you feel very imaginative and intuitive, project your present self into the future and introduce a third character into your poem – yourself as an elderly person meeting the other two."
I have finally started writing my Morning Pages again. I'd recommend this practice to anyone who wants to write. Today's prose poem was a freewrite. It was one of those rare and delicious moments when the piece just wrote itself. It's not a very happy piece but one I hope that has some resonance for others. I always come back to the same spot - writing is the one thing that keeps me sane (ish). It's the only way I know to detangle what's inside.
The story starts like this. The condensation on the windows, the early morning cough and throat-clear of distant traffic, two magpies on the branch of the yellowing tree in the garden, and the promise of a brighter day behind the blanket thick clouds. Most of the house asleep and the air cold and still - and quiet enough to hear the patient hum of the fridge and a blackbird, out of view welcoming the morning in.
You would like to be happier than you are now but last night's novel got under your skin. The female protagonist is a little too much like you. She's lost, self indulgent but kind enough under the confusion. She keeps on trying to think her way out of things when she should just be feeling her way through. Autumn never ceases to make your eyes fall in love with it and all the colours its brings, rivalling May (your birth month) for your heart.
And then the text. From an unknown number. 'I'm back'. It says 'Did you forget about me?' Of course you know immediately who it's from and think about deleting it. You wanted your life to be one neat paragraph after another and when a page was turned, that was it, there was no going back. But no one told you the truth about ghosts, that you could be haunted by your self. You open the text again. Now it says 'Why did you forget me?'
You know the sender, 22 years old her hair far shorter than yours now. A precise barber shop cut, shaved at the sides and a neat halo of bleached curls on top. She's wearing black and the only shine comes from her market bought gold hoops hanging from both ears and the vague glimmer of hope shining in her eyes. She's been dancing all night at a word of mouth warehouse party and still has energy for the weekend ahead. She wants to live life without stopping but something keeps pulling her under the waves, something she doesn't have a name for. You know she has stopped writing poetry, spends her weekends on the hunt for what you, at 47, are still looking for.
A wasp buzzes towards the one light on in your kitchen. What he wants so much will kill him. The heat of the bulb will fry his tiny wings. He seems dejected when you switch the light off but you have to save one life even if it's not your own. You text back 'Please don't ever stop' and then delete it immediately. It feels lightweight and unreal.
Of course you want to tell her that you love her, to keep going and that the only things that are her fault are her fault but the rest is the world just spinning on its axis, and all the people living there and that she is not responsible for everything. Some of it is the dry old physics of being and that there's no maths that can explain why things happen the way they do, that she's not to blame. You want to say keep writing or that she should get out more, or stay in more and not run so much.
You have so much you want to say and so few ways it can be said, here, in this text. You type the text again, trashy as it sounds 'Please don't ever stop being who you are' and hope she can hear it this time.