Poetic distraction

I don’t write poetry. Not really. Not seriously. And on the very odd occasion when I very occasionally do, I am invariably in a mood which can only be described as weird.

It’s a conflicted condition: at once focused and distracted, overflowing with language yet linguistically constrained, dreamy and jittery. It puzzles me. And, I suppose, the writing of a poem is a way of trying to impose some kind of structure and sense on an insensible state. Like being caught in a riptide, the only way out is to swim with it for a while, appearing to give in until you can sneak out, at the gentlest of angles, before the current catches on. To scratch the itch that will placate, but never exorcise, this particular imp.

I drifted into this once-in-a-blue-moon mood last week, around the same time I was setting up this blog, working on a structural revision of the final chapter of my novel, and writing copy for a business website. Now multitasking is something I’m good at, but this was a bit much. My brain didn’t exactly seize up, but my subconscious serenely reprioritised. Laptop abandoned, I found myself in the window seat, notebook on knee, pencil in hand and bleak winter landscape arrayed before me. I could have been a Bronte heroine.

The funny thing, though, about surrendering to that sweet melancholy, is how the words just come. And how, even though no one but you may ever quite grasp the sense or the structure you see in it, you know when the words are perfect, or when they’re close but not quite right, or when they are as awkward and wrong as a mistranslated verse. You feel the rhythm of it. You move to the beat.

I wrote the damn poem. I’m not displeased with it. Getting it down felt like waking up.

You can read it here.

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