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Jun 2018
She says she doesn’t have the strength within herself to write poetry.
Yes, her. The one who so often nourished me with song
til my soul began to learn how to hunt for itself,
whose word carried weight in leading me to pick my own instrument,
albeit one of a different tone,
as the key in keyboard became prominent for the first time
and the sound of purposeful fingers upon it could be considered,
only in the right light,
synonymous to the plucking of strings, just as rooted in emotion.

Yet she's the first to say that she herself can't do it.

Thing is, I suppose we’re politely at odds on the matter.
She favors poetry that’s sharper, with a cleaner cut,
that’s message is immediate and jarring
as a conduit running from soul through skin,
or a loose-lipped diary finally freed from lock and key.
And when she declared it, I started to consider what my poems seem to me:
Blackberry bushes (but kinder, I hope)
that snag and immerse just long enough
to make me feel I’ve had an effect.
I’ve used writing to expel my most gnarled feelings
to any passerby who’s maybe felt the same.
Like crying in a mirror:
alarming, but oddly refreshing,
and an indefinite reminder that our aches are never only our own.

Still, I'm not sure why it blows my mind
to hear that even the most glamorous hearts,
who wear confidence as a summer breeze that's always in their favor
and who inspire, from beau gestures to sleight of hand,
are included in those who find themselves pacing back, back and forth,
begging curbside at the dime store
for a scrap of the same feed that convinces a heart to pump ink.

But she says that any art that's enjoyed is worth it.
So while she seeks out words that bare the bones,
I’ll stay and make a meal of the marrow,
hollowing them so that the poetry may have a rightful place
to reverberate as hymns in a universal monastery.

But hell, like I’m any old soul.
I dress nicer than I otherwise would,
turn to the mother who told me I don’t meet her lowest standards,
and ask for a critique.
All for the moment when she greets me at the door with a legendary G#.

...Now please, could you spare a dime?
Dedicated to Elise, who, when faced with my tangled mouthful of flattery, somehow saw through to the part of me that’s actually worth a ****.
Emma Ottinger
Written by
Emma Ottinger  breadbasket of the world
(breadbasket of the world)   
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         Zukiswa Mvunguse, Eloisa, MicMag, ꏳJ LꂦVꏂ, ju and 9 others
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