I’ve been working very closely with mentor and editor Mario Petrucci on a poem that lost its original intention. Largely through over-editing, and through the naive assumption that every poem in this collection needs to, in some way, mention my brother.
The trigger of a trauma or grief lands like a stone in the sand. But what happens when it hits? There’s the deep impression of its weight in the soft, sandy bed. And then all those fine, powdery particles erupting outwards, mushrooming into a thick, cicular progression of dust. Part of the writing challenge here, is to somehow capture this radiation, and everything it touches.
With Mario’s guidance, I’ve come to an important landmark in the trauma writing process – that is, realsing how valuable, yet discrete, this new space from which to write, can be. My new poem ‘Garden’ is the product of exploring it. I’ve posted a snippet below.
And just before I go, a few phrases from Mario that I’ve shaped into advice, that might help some of you on your own, trauma writing journeys.
1) The initia l energy of a poem is key, especially a trauma poem. Stick with it.
2) It’s okay to ‘make love’ to death. And by this I mean – it’s okay to get close, sensual, weird. Especially if your trauma is connected to it.
3) Sometimes, it’s worth looking at the bigger picture (the eruption of dust) and spend some good, quality time exploring it.
The garden is speaking to me with the rain.
It rocks and sways like the bow
of my spine when making love.
It talks the way a body talks.
The trees bend their hard backs
and moan with the weight,
their long green hair
throws shafts of purple – the birds
touch in and out of the downward wet.
They rock and sway like the bow of my spine
when making love.
I catch that song among them,
lit up like still bones
and I wonder if the sky is a coffin,
if they flit and skitter, adorning the dead…
Extract from ‘Garden’ © Helen Calcutt 2019