Writing and mumbling, with Adrienne Rich and Kristy Bowen

I stayed up most the night writing and I’m a bit wrecked, but only in the best possible way.

I’m sure you know how that goes. You start writing and you begin to push aside your defenses, and the longer you write the more layers you unpeel until suddenly all of your defenses are gone and you’re vulnerable and exposed and almost whimpering from the power of it all.

During such times I like to recite poems beneath my breath. Whenever I pause from writing to gather myself, I repeat lines from the poems that I love.

Tonight it was Adrienne Rich’s Women. Since April is also National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share this one with you.

Adrienne Rich

My three sisters are sitting
on rocks of black obsidian.
For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are.

My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession.
She is going as the Transparent lady
and all her nerves will be visible.

My second sister is also sewing,
at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,
At last, she hopes, this tightness in her chest will ease.

My third sister is gazing
at a dark-red crust spreading westward far out on the sea.
Her stockings are torn but she is beautiful.

I’ve always loved this poem, since I have three sisters, but it’s special to me now because I’m presently staying in my youngest sister’s house in Philly and watching her elderly cat while she’s away on a business trip to Amsterdam. There’s something very powerful about being alone in my sister’s house, surrounded by all of her things, all of her memories, and staying up all night writing. Almost as if I am haunted by her ghosts.

And here’s the view from my sister’s desk, where I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop since yesterday (is there anything more glorious than writing until you are almost crazy from the intensity and solitude and the sheer power and drama and ridiculousness of your own mind?).

And oops, here’s another poem I can’t get out of my head. Don’t worry, it’s short and sweet and to the point, by another of my favorite poets, Kristy Bowen (this was published in Kettle Blue Review). I so love the last line, “it was snowing in all the wrong ways.”


house of open wounds

Kristy Bowen

In the bedroom, I am disappearing finger
by finger, limb by limb. Reinventing the mud daubers,
the blotted tissue, installing locks on all the medicine cabinets.
All along I was waiting for the opening,
my head moon ridden and heavy lidded. I opened my hands
and produced  a dove, but the love was all wrong. The fog,
the heart-shaped wreath,  the fence I tore my thigh on were all in small villages
on the other side of the world where we never visit. Where the river swarmed
and seized us. I was uncurling, unfurling, following all the wrong signs.
Older men walked me home and I fell against them like a cat.
In Paris, I released a fistful of petals out a hotel window.
In other neighborhoods, it was snowing in all the wrong ways.


6 thoughts on “Writing and mumbling, with Adrienne Rich and Kristy Bowen

    1. Well, it’s not exactly the motherlode, lol. It’s funny how you can write late at night and think you’re working on a masterpiece and then read it over the next morning and realize that it certainly is not a masterpiece. That’s kind of what happened, though the basic premise is still holding steady. At least for now, sigh, sigh. Cheers and take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ah, you may feel that you didn’t hit the motherlode but there is that thrill at being so inspired to write and write and write and to feel urged on by others’ writing. I’m glad you had that experience 🙂 Is this your current novel or something new?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Marie. I’m working on a series of short stories, or at least I think I am, because stories are HARD to write. You have to weave so much inside such a small space. It’s not really my thing and I have no idea why I’m even doing it. Just passing time, you know? Cheers and take care.


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