for Monday prompt Aug. 2 at http://bigtentpoetry.org
The prompt, this week, was to take a look at ones own poetry and find what might have become a ‘comfort zone’ within the writing itself. Then to create a piece of work that goes against, or does the opposite of what one feels comfortable with.
I found the prompt, both challenging, and even a bit intimidating. My ‘comfort zone’ is quite wide, and I’ll pretty much try anything once, or more, and if it works, it goes on the spacious desk of my ‘zone’, to be used whenever and wherever it suits. However, bottom level, I am a died in the wool personal/confessional poet. That capitol I is of grave importance to me personally, because for a long time it was denied to all women, as in “History” that lacked most, if not all, of “Herstory”, due to an arbitrarily defined set of pronouns. So, instead of tackling my entire comfort zone, I confronted this most basic cornerstone of my poetic structure. I used to use the third person because I was originally very shy of exposing myself to any and all criticism. That quite quickly left with my ever growing brick smashing reality.
I do hold two degrees, one in History and another in English. However, I also hold un-credited minors in Philosophy and Women’s Studies (stop and think for a moment about the reality that the latter of those two courses of study was not a reality until the latter half of the recently past century). Those ever present arrays of electives were just too tempting, as well as the many hours spent in casual conversation with Professors and fellow students. But, much of that has been pushed to simmer, onto the back burner, as I have honed my personal preferences in the writing field.
The present piece comes, once again, from something that was said in a casual conversation. And it seemed to fit the prompt for me and what I was trying to do. The sub-title started out as a tongue-in-cheek afterthought, but as the poem developed, became a definite statement of my own thought process. I also do not usually mess with the structure of a piece, but this one definitely called for just such a device, as well as the font change I used. Perhaps, just as important (and harder to do), was to take the stance of an oberver, rather than that of an immediate participant.
Dance of Veils:
A Purely Historical and Philosophical Treatise
on the Affair Between Men and Women
She trembles, can barely move
wrapped in the gossamer veils
he has covered her in
for centuries. Ears and eyes
blinded by silken promises,
she barely hears when he says,
“You may begin.”
He fidgets with excitement
as he sits to watch what he
believes his greatest creation.
Sees barely revealed tremble
and knows, she wants this
as much as he does.
She moves one finger
finds edge of single veil,
hooks, then gathers it in
slowly. Lets it drop away
and feels the blessing
of cool air on skin
too long covered in thin
multi-layers of performance
on demand. Cocks her head
to listen, and so continues…
He grasps hold of each veil
tosses them over his shoulders,
drops them in lap, wrapping
around waist, hips now trembling
with feverish pleasure,
as inch by inch of gleaming oiled
skin appears. Sees her head
cock as if to listen, revealing
delicate curve of neck and he knows
she has caught aroused scent
that breathes in air between them.
She feels welling wildness within,
catches whiff of possibility of freedom,
knows, without knowing
how she knows, that she must move
slowly, has forever been told
she must keep her head bowed,
covered until the very end.
He grows edgy with agitation,
in frenzy, grabs each veil
to re-possess these gifts he
has so carefully given, bestowed
ever so graciously upon that which
he knows his greatest possession.
Her almost languid movements, seductive
to all of his senses, he even throws
the veils over his head,
almost laughing out loud
at what he anticipates
with dominant fixation.
Her limbs, now free, she lifts
her arms to reach for final veil
that binds and blinds her. Hears
his groans, his sighs, as she slides
it slowly from her face and eyes,
shuttered for an eternity see light,
a doorway, a man sitting there
in his chair, lost in silent revelry.
She moves with certainty, brushing
his hands, legs, his shoulders,
gently pats his head, then without
a word goes still and silent.
He, now unable to see, knows she
has moved to be near him, hears
slight whisper of silk, feels her hands
lightly touch his own, slide down
his legs to his feet, then feels her
move away, he knows, to watch
his own unfolding. When he finds
veils have been tied in swift sure knots,
he chuckles low down in his throat
and roughly grumbles, “Oh, I know now,
you want to play, we will, all evening
and into tomorrow, and maybe even
as she runs through moonlit night, free
and naked, joined by wild four-leggeds,
while feathered friends fly above
and beside her. All come to guide,
to protect, and to join in celebration
of her longed for escape, her release
that speaks of their own, and her
finally accomplished freedom. She
stumbles almost to a stop. Thinks
of the man and all that has happened.
Steels herself to continue, knowing
deep in her soul, again not quite
knowing how she knows, that until
they first meet as complete, whole,
yet separate entities, they can never
truly be equally and always together.
And he, still tied to his throne,
shakes his head disbelieving,
after giving her everything
he has always known she desired,
she would run away, alone. Desert
the home he so willingly offered.
Finally remembers that initial fear
he felt when first she appeared,
that he could never truly possess her.
As one single tear breaks loose,
he sighs in utter confusion, whispers
forlornly, into cold dark night,
“Women, who can possibly
Elizabeth Crawford 8/6/10