Thursday, May 11, 2006

Poetry Thursday

The more I blog, the more I discover how good other blogs are! Couldn't believe my luck to discover Poetry Thursday recently, set up by Liz Elayne and Lynn, and am determined to join in with a poem every week. So here's my first. This is an old one of mine, and won third prize in a Poetry London competition. I wrote it in the British Library when I was researching Freud's theory of family romances, and it resonated with me so much that I had to stop reading and write. I remember really clearly as a kid absolutely knowing that these people pretending to be my mum and dad weren't really, and that any day now my real mum and dad, the prince and princess, were going to drop by and claim me! It was a salutory experience to think that my own daughter was probably doing exactly the same thing - and so this poem came about...

Different Lives

My daughter’s trying on different lives
for size. She tries to catch me out,

snakes her arms around my neck,
pushes herself back into my lap.

Tell me about my real dad, she asks.
This is a game we’ve played before.

I close my eyes. He smells of home,
of ginger biscuits dipped in warm milk,

you know how you sip it to send you to sleep.
Sweet dreams he always said when he kissed me

goodnight. Once we stood under a street light
and he wrapped me in his coat,

buttoned it round the two of us. Sleep tight
I’d tell him.
My daughter nods, her head heavy

on my chest, she murmurs an echo of my words
sleep tight, sweet dreams. I watch her go

as her father lifts her off my lap, cradles
her up to bed and I hear her sleepy plea

Tell me about my real mum. Alone, I strain
to catch his words, just out of reach.

And my writing prompt for today is going to be ... the different life I could have had!


bb said...

I really liked your poem. It is refined and dignified, simple in its narrative and progression, whilst suppressing undercurrents of jealousy and desire. Gorgeous!

AscenderRisesAbove said...

what a fun poem!

abhay k said...

I liked the flow and the simlicity of your poem!

Deb R said...

I love how evocative your poem is. I could see it all unfolding.

Left-handed Trees... said...

The poem was spare, yet very full of meaning...I loved reading it. As for the writing prompt--thank you for that one. "A Different Life I Could Have Had", I'll use it well...

Susannah said...

I loved this. "He smells of home,
of ginger biscuits dipped in warm milk" - this line in particular was so touching, and sitting alone, straining to hear about the other you... beautiful. i can't wait to read more of our poems

Jennifer said...

I love it too... I suppose we all do this from time to time.

paris parfait said...

Lovely poem; very clever-----longing to hear about the other life.

paris parfait said...

Lovely poem; very clever-----longing to hear about the other life.

pepektheassassin said...

This is really fine! BTW, I also really love both of Natalie Goldberg's books, and the Annie Dillard and the Anne Lamott! They are the BEST!

Sarah said...

Oh thanks so much, I'm really chuffed by all the nice comments. And yes, pepektheassasin, we seem to have the same tastes!

chiefbiscuit said...

Loved this poem. Love your blog too. Thanks for the poem - it has some great lines. Beautiful idea behind it too.

liz elayne said...

i want to wrap myself in these words...this poem speaks to me this morning. i felt right there with you straining to hear his words.
thank you.

Sarah said...

Thanks again, I'm glad I put it up. And thanks liz elayne for the Poetry Thursday idea!