Sevenish

The Poetry Daily harks back to some art I saw in Glasgow on my visit in May. I was really attracted by a series of three oils on board by Lois Green called Sevenish. I love domesticity elevated to art. Women writers and artists often get criticised for  using domestic settings and themes. When they go against that rubric I want to ‘Hurray!’ When these subjects are deemed museum worthy I feel the world turns a little more in favour of ‘women’s work’, recognising its value and validating it. When a theme for poetry practice doesn’t immediately leap to mind in the morning, artwork that moved me on a museum or gallery visit is there in my iPad to inspire.  Green’s 7am portrait is definitely not at high summer, wheras mine is rooted in this season. 

But I do seem to be still on a five line jag. Not using yesterday’s formula, but a syllabic pattern of my own devising.

In reverse order Sevenish 3,2,1

And my version in five parts.

Sevenish

The only chat is with the cats.

The bed is tossed. A book is lost.

Bright sun. No cloud. Farm machines sound loud.

The sink fills up with cups and plates.

It’s still early. But feels so late.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Mending

I knew at some point that the artwork I viewed when I was on Glasgow earlier this month would eventually compost down into a poem. Today’s the day for poetry practice to be sparked by an exhibit of the finalists of the BBC Women’s Hour Craft Prize.  The work that stayed with me did not win.  But it was the one that moved me most. Celia Pym uses darning as a “way to interrogate our feelings about vulnerability, care and repair”, as well as the value of mending. In the exhibit, at Glasgow’s Lighthouse, the mended garment included some biography about the maker, the wearer and the meaning of the garment. It was not just an exercise in salvaging an item of clothing; it excavated story and memory. As the old Celts believed, memory is the basis of all poetry.

Mending

It is an out of date craft,

seeing the warp and weft,

the places where it has become

all unravelled,

where a chasm or crater

opened up in the fabric.

You had your needle and yarn.

You knew how to darn.

To darn was necessity,

like plugging the hole that sprang

in a dyke – for otherwise

the sea will take all.

It’s the last defense. With yarn

weaving it all back into 

a whole piece, the story may

have alteration,

but it still holds up despite

patchwork, cast on, sounds off.

The tide goes out. The seawall

stilll holds it at bay.

Though today mending may be

a dying art. We cast off

the worn beyond easily

into a landmass,

a continent of cast offs-

poor storyless pieces of cloth

insufficently beloved,

piled high, sold so cheap.

Mending used to be a skill.

As necessary as how

to make was in the first place.

The plot’s got mislaid

The fabric’s gone frayed.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.