She is running away from them,
businessmen on the Avenue
queued at the traffic lights, thinking of home.
Leaves underfoot, great drifts
as though she were running
through the soft husks of summer.
In dreams it feels like this –
effortless. Easy. Stride and breath flowing
like sunlight through half-bare trees.
At the end of the path she will stop,
catch her breath, feel her day
stealing back with the flush on her face.
But for now she is running. The tingle
of sweat meeting cold air, the exhilaration,
as though she could outrun her life.
Ok, this is still a draft. I know the ending is probably a bit heavy handed. And I suspect the rhythm is a bit too insistent.
Maybe I could slide the line “her lungs have grown wings” in there somewhere (it only occurred to me after I posted). And I suspect this poem needs that sort of flight of fantasy to redeem it. And some way of loosening up – moving away from the triplet stanzas. (Although strong rhythm could serve to reinforce the pounding of her feet …)
It started from a trick I have used to fairly decent benefit before. You take a poem by someone else, and write out a line by line “plan” of how it unfolds. Then restate each line in your own words, translating the image and story to something of your own.
The poem I used was Matthew Sweeney’s “The Bells”, from The Bridal Suite (Cape, 1997). My rough structure plan was as follows:
action; action; sensation; detail; consequence; thought; plan; desire; passive action; related memory; related desire; spin-off memory; location of memory; link to present; feeling; sensation (factual); sensation (metaphorical/fantastical); action; consequence; fantasy; action (fantastical); consequence (fantastical).
I’m aware that my plan is a highly individual one. And that I really didn’t stick to it very long … never mind, it helped me keep the poem moving, and that’s what counts.