Monday, October 03, 2005

This week we were assigned a dramatic monologue for our poetry class. Professor Burch urged us to read "Home Burial" and "My Last Dutchess" as examples of forms in which we could write. However, I've always had an aversion to long poetry--not necessarily others', but my own. I've found that I always tend to cut myself off fairly quickly because otherwise I kind of ramble off into vague thoughts and jumbled meanings. However, despite the fact that this thing went on for 30+ lines and is in free verse...I'm actually kind of pleased with in it, in a weird way. I mean, I know I've come down pretty hard on free verse in the past, but it has its place. Perhaps its place is when you realize your own limitations and that it's really frikkin' hard to keep meter and rhyme for a full forty lines or so. (Although I did it in the sestina.)
Anyways. If I'm ever a famous poet (ha) and get into the Norton Anthology, I suppose there will be a little asterisk above the title with a subsequent footnote explaining the legend of the Crim Dell Bridge; that is, a couple walks across the bridge together and kiss in the middle. After they cross they have to get married. If they break the engagement, one of them has to throw the other off the bridge. With that rather morbid intro, here it is:

Forty Years Later

The reunion's loud and boisterous but
He's quiet, standing on the bridge,
Alone in thoughts he hasn't had
In quite some time. A flick, a snap,
A spark, and then a flame--he breathes
A plume of smoke into the autumn air.
Hello, Mark. I didn't know you liked cigars.
He turns, surprised, but doesn't let it show.
I don't; Charlie gave it to me. Remember Charlie?
He's the one that got into a fistfight, freshman year.
Took three cops to hold him down.
She laughs and tilts her face towards him
The way she used to on those winter nights
With cups of cocoa, wool blankets, and bare feet
And laughter and the soft weight of her head against his chest.
So what have you been up to, Carol? I heard you and Jim--
She frowns. Jim and I split up ten years ago.
What do you care anyway?
You weren't even at our wedding. Why didn't you come?
He flicks his ash into the glassy mirror of the pond,
Takes a deep puff. Because I was in jail.
She stares. You what?
He laughs, but starkly. After I got your invitation
I went on a bender that lasted three days
And landed me in the tank. Otherwise, I would've come.
She's silent for a moment;
He chews the cigar in restless thought,
A heavy veil of nothing-left-to-say between them.
So, did you ever throw Jim off the bridge?
She laughs again, relieved,
And comes to stand beside him. No, of course not.
Don't tell me you believed that old cliche.
He smiles. Some cliches are worth believing.
She hugs his arm, and presses close. I thought you were a realist,
A cynic, a man grown old before his time?
He pats her hand. Even old men and curmudgeons
Get to be sentimental every once in a while.
She tugs at his sleeve gently.
Come back to the party, Mark, to the people you used to know,
The people you used to be able to remember.
He lets her lead him off the bridge
But stops her as they step onto solid ground:
We crossed it, Carol.
Do you think it's the last bridge
We'll ever cross together?
She turns her head and smiles
A smile of years gone by.
Wouldn't it be pretty to think so?


Blogger Dymphna said...

I like the nostalgia...very evocative. And funny/sad.

Some words need to be tightened or omitted or changed.

For example
He chews the cigar in restless thought --

I like him chewing the cigar, but I don't want to know his thoughts are restless, somehow it doesn't fit with the rest of what we know about him...

I like the set up a lot, but this seems to be the first draft of several.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Also, read Robert Frost's "Death of a Hired Hand" -- you evoke him a bit here.

2:59 AM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

I believe that's the same poem as "Home Burial," no? Or am I mistaken?

8:27 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

No. "Home Burial" is about the relationship between a husband and wife after the death of a child.

"Death of the Hired Hand" is a narrative poem, too, and between a husband and wife, but it's about Silas, the unreliable hired hand who has come back and is sick and dying.

11:24 PM  

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