One More Hour

Day 22
Poem 22

I picked this “impossible” prompt from today’s options:

The clock can’t strike thirteen.

 
One More Hour

I will invent another hour for you, love,
fit key to clock and turn the minutes back.
Stay a little longer. Your feet may ache
but this, night of all nights, shouldn’t need
to end. Dance longer and I’ll watch
longer. Once the clock strikes twelve
your night is over. Once the clock strikes
thirteen I have no excuse to remain.
In the morning your story will play on and I
will be played off, having played my part.
Who will ask where I have gone, who
will know I was here? You will know, love,
but I will fade in each retelling,
becoming some glittering phantom, blurry,
possibly imagined. And you, finding your
happy end, will forget about the means.

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More Than a Mirror

Day 22
Poem 21

Yesterday’s prompt was about Narcissus, so I decided to focus on a different character who has an obsession with her reflection.

More Than a Mirror

Queen meant something once but now it is an empty word, dirty.
It meant beloved to the one who came before me; now, imposter,
replacement. Beautiful also used to have meaning. I’d hear it
whispered as I passed; now, vain has replaced it. I cover
these walls with mirrors, yes, but is it vanity to wish
to see friends around me, faces that smile despite pained eyes,
women silent but warm? The king sees his prize and his people
see evil but I will see me a million times over, stripped
to the skin, often backwards but true and extending forever.

Rebellion

Day 20
Poem 20

A more personal take on rebellion.

Rebellion

Every rule I break is written
down in my own hand and I remind myself no one cares
if that hand is messy.

No one is watching me. No one
had ever watched and the only lock on the door is mine.
I swallowed the key.

But I need in.
If only I can cover my eyes and ignore my pulse
I can flee.

Next Chapter

Day 20
Poem 19

I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, so today I did two based on the rebellion prompt. This one is quite literal – I can’t hear “rebel” without thinking of my favorite children’s show/series, Ever After High.

Next Chapter

I cannot be my mother.

Those words were always true. Was her life
really what I wanted or did I just want
to earn it? Did I always long to be
more? Now I am, all by accident,

with all the discomfort of adjusting
the first time the girl you kissed touches you,
and all the joy. The parting, the finally
fitting, the right of it, of us.

I thought my mother was inevitable

but it was you, my love, waiting
just past the blinding glare,
patient as I came closer as my hands
groped for yours, as I became.

Apology

Day 18
Poem 18

Today’s prompt was responding to another poem backwards. The one I picked, entirely by chance and without seeing the title until I finished, was “The Age of Anxiety” by John Koethe, and I ended up writing my way into my anxieties. This is edited so it no longer matches up with Koethe’s poem.

Apology

Who is the sorry for this time? Who do you think
you owe? You said you wanted alone, so where
is your imaginary audience? They must be home
writing angry letters about what a waste it is,
watching you do nothing. And you apologize,
promise that you’ll move soon, that
there are beautiful words just waiting
for trimming and arrangement someday soon.
Eleven months of words you didn’t write
hanging over your shoulders, dragging on the floor.
You let them sit, busy yourself with parceling out
I can’ts. You’re afraid to settle,
afraid of suspension, afraid that the ties will fall
and leave you only. But you make no move.
You apologize for the blanks between your lips
and your legs and your thoughts. You apologize
to the early homonids who evolved to be together,
but maybe you’re another species.

Corey Plays

Day 17
Poem 17

I don’t write about my brother all that frequently, but yesterday’s prompt was about playing, and that’s such a big part of who he is: family games, sports, music.

Corey Plays

I learned to lose early,
cross-legged on the floor in the family room,
throwing games because that’s what you do when faced
with a miniature tyrant who will upend the board when he doesn’t
get the green piece.
Nobody wins with the progress scattered on the carpet.

Corey plays hard, hours
in the backyard repeating the motion
until his pitches break the backstop and smack
into the fence, until he can go undefeated in a game
nobody will hand to him.

He learned to lose older,
when the games began to matter,
when hours with a baseball seemed nothing
compared to years with a trombone, when it wasn’t a matter
of getting the green piece
but of getting a job.

But still, Corey plays loud.
I’ve learned to take second best,
to write in crowded train cars in the margins
of the everyday, apologizing for every hard-won word.
Corey plays bold,
owns the ugly notes with the beautiful,
expanding to fill the house, silencing anything
in his way. Corey plays big, never “I’m sorry,” only
“I’m here.”

Ever After

Day 16
Poems 15 and 16

Yesterday’s prompt was about showing a villain in a moment of pain and humanity. It’s one of my favorite things to write about, but I got stuck for a while as I tried to figure out a villain I don’t write about much. I’ve written about the title character from The Snow Queen before, but I’d never explored the other child-snatching witch in the story. I wrote two linked poems about their loss of their temporary children.

Ever After I: Summer

The daisies keep to themselves now, and the roses,
the roses haven’t forgiven how I hid them away
like a secret shame. I groomed them for so many summers,
carefully pruned and guided towards me,
faces following me as if I was the only light.

All the spells are broken now and my human child fled
with all her half-remembered songs,
unintelligible games. And my garden children,
rooted as they are to me, crane their necks
to follow her. They see me, now, like those
far beyond the garden wall: eccentric, unpredictable,
enchanted by her own lies.


Ever After II: Winter

The room where I kept you is empty, all the rooms are empty but for the wind
and still I check each one, flurrying. But you’ve finished the puzzle,
each piece of mirror fitting neatly to the others, and when I look down
at the place I left you, all I see is me. Too late.

I should have found a better way to keep you, whether chains or gentle words.

I’d forgotten how cold it can be, the silence, these rooms without
the faint warmth of your body heat, the chatter of your teeth.
Eating my dinner now, on the days I remember about eating, I look across
the long table to see nothing at all. I go to bed early now

there’s no you to watch, fighting with your puzzle, your tears going crystal.