Friday, July 11, 2008

The Big Reveal

Several months ago, a journal called Poet Lore published one of my poems, a piece called “Early Spring.”

I had mixed feelings about it. In a world where one’s mailbox is constantly swelling with terse rejection slips, one learns to be grateful for whatever one can get. The theory behind submitting poems to journals is a lot like that of the horndog wandering through the bar asking woman after woman, Wanna fuck? He knows 99 percent will smack him down, but the possibility of that one sloppy drunk whose eyes will light up gives him hope.

But this piece—confessional, so autobiographical it made my skin crawl even as I wrote it—was atypical of what I tend to write, and I briefly considered changing my mind and asking them not to print it.

Of course, I didn't.

What fascinates me about this moment in time is that the threats to our privacy are so constant, and people so passionately opposed to the invasions conducted by government and corporations alike (when those two bodies are separate at all, that is). And yet never before have we been so prone to revealing our most private, intimate thoughts to a hungry anonymous audience.

I recently read a blog in which a 30 year old woman was openly discussing her virginity and her desperation to lose it; her thoughts were the sort that I might express to my oldest, dearest friends—but no one else. Sometimes it seems we're fighting two opposing fronts at once: one to keep hold of our personal sphere, the other to open it as wide as possible. So much of the latter seems driven by loneliness.

Poetry has always revealed the smudgy, oily hair-clogs at the bottoms of our emotional drains, of course.

So what’s the difference between poetry and the universe of confessional blogging?

All I know is that when this baby came out in print, it made me real glad my dad reads nothing but John Grisham novels.


Early Spring

On the mattress we’d carried into the woods—
through April dusk, sky bannered pale blue,
lines of townhouse windows
shining gold back across the creek—
I held him carefully to take him in.
Pain opened, very slowly, into joy.

After, we lay beneath the breeze
and pulled up the blanket. Dirt and leaves
crept in near our bodies.
Blades of iris pronged up through the soil.

It grew darker. We could hear
night animals moving in the trees;
families cooking out in nearby yards
as we began again, this time with me above,
staring down into his astonished face.
It had been hard to breathe beneath his weight,
but with fuller lungs I found a voice
to call to God—for pardon? or in praise?—
all that seemed certain was something huge
had taken hold; I wanted to name it
so I could call it back.

Later we dressed, tender with each other,
helping with buttons, brushing off leaves
to meet our parents’ probing eyes at curfew.
Conspirators, giggling triumphant,

we carried the mattress out
slung low between us
as though it were the third body
we had torn alive from the dumb wet earth.

9 comments:

Gina said...

So, I will (confessionally) admit that part of my intention here is to be the FIRST COMMENT ON YOUR NEW BLOG!!!! (nahneenahneebooboo!), but I am equally intent on expressing how happy this makes me! I can not wait to read more of your beautiful work here. . . . More thoughts to come on the whole privacy/confessional writing/ boundary/ clogged drain issues, but for the moment, alllow me to simply say, "Welcome to the blogosphere chicka!" -- you've just raised the level in the discourse, beauty and talent pool significantly. xo

M. C. Allan said...

Thanks, G -- I have to admit, I feel a little squirrelly about it still! But we'll see how it goes. I'm kinda worried it will take away from "real writing" time, but what is that, after all?

Angela said...

Welcome to the blog world! Your site is awesome. That poem is breathtaking and your piece about confessional blogging is spot on. I'm hungry for more... Bravo, chica! This rocks!

M. C. Allan said...

thanks, Ang. look forward to chatting with you in "the real world" about this stuff. I haven't decided about whether this will get me more in the writing space or just take away from time I should be spending on poetry and the novel!

rt said...

'early spring':
old age is wasted on the old.
thanks for elevating the blog discourse, carrie.
i'm platform-agnostic.

rt said...

"Not all the pianos in the wood
Had power to mangle me."
-- 'i dreaded that first robin so'
-- emily dickinson

i dread that title so but i love those lines.

M. C. Allan said...

Thanks, RT -- those are great lines. Dickinson is definitely one of those who alternately gives me visceral cringes ("how dreadful to be somebody!/How public, like a frog" -- I mean, really? A FROG? I've met several frogs over the years, and I've found most of them to be very private people) and thrills about a thing said so exactly rightly. Much more the latter, of course -- I don't know that I've ever read more lovely work about grief than her poem that ends:

This is the Hour of Lead -
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow -
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go -

Maggie May said...

i am so glad you found me and i came here. this poem is rich and clear like a countryside bell. beautiful.

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