Thursday, February 23, 2017

Poetry Friday: How to Mend a Broken Vase

At an early meeting of my writing group, a member shared the Frank O'Hara poem "Why I Am Not a Painter".  It was photocopied from a book, and it was prefaced by this suggestion: "Make a title beginning with 'How' or 'Three Ways That...' or some such implied promise, and then in your poem that follows break or defy the promise, or complicate it."

The poem that follows was my effort to respond to that prompt.  This is a second draft, changed using some of the group's criticisms.


How to Mend a Broken Vase

First, gather up the shards.
Don’t forget that the shattering sent them in all directions;
There’s one, under the fridge,
And over there is another.
You’ll probably be finding pieces for quite a while.

Once you have them all picked up,
Put them in a pile,
And stare at them.

Think about whatever possessed you
To pick up that vase full of dead flowers
With butter on your hands
And scold yourself roundly.

When you’re ready, get to work with the glue.
Make a smeary mess.
Peel glue off your fingers and try again.
Cut yourself on pieces of glass,
Drop some on the ground and step on them,
Generally fail to mend the broken vase.

Give up.

Leave the pile where it is
And get irritated with it every time you see it.

Start enjoying the way the slivers of glass
Shine and sparkle as the light hits them.
Think about what you could add
To make a mosaic.

If, by chance,
It is your heart instead of a vase that you have carelessly
Allowed to get broken,
The same procedure will work.

Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


 Karen Edmisten has the roundup for this week.




19 comments:

Diane Mayr said...

I love this! The last 2 lines are great.

Jane @ Raincity Librarian said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Linda B said...

You met this challenge so wonderfully, Ruth. It did "turn" in a way I didn't expect and I loved that ending.

katswhiskers said...

Fabulous! You might 'scold yourself roundly' about the vase, but not about this poem!

Sally Murphy said...

Wonderful. What a great challenge and you carried it off with aplomb!

Molly Hogan said...

Love the challenge and your response. Those ending lines are unexpected and wonderful!

Brenda Harsham said...

Wonderful poem, Ruth. I like the way you bring it to mosaics and your heart.

Doraine Bennett said...

Well done! And that turn at the end is perfect.

Alice Nine said...

Such impossibly practical advice. The turn at the end is perfect, made me reread with the analogy in mind. Well-done!

Kay said...

Amazing poem--and such wise advice.

jama said...

Love this, Ruth. Great detail and ending.

BJ Lee said...

How apropos Ruth! That is exactly the right thing to do with the broken vase. And I love your deeper lesson. Wonderful!

Carol Varsalona said...

Such wonderful advice on how to turn around life.

Donna Smith said...

Ha! Yes, there is always a different way to look at things, and ways to transfer your knowledge from one realm to another. That was total awesomeness! Very nice.

Tara Smith said...

Love this stanza:
Start enjoying the way the slivers of glass
Shine and sparkle as the light hits them.
Think about what you could add
To make a mosaic.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Some very good advice, Ruth!

Mitchell Linda said...

Ruth, this is wonderful! Not only the poem....I'll get to that...but the prompt. I've copied that prompt for my writing this week. Thank you!

My favorite lines are these
Once you have them all picked up,
Put them in a pile,
And stare at them.

I can't help see the metaphor...we are all vessels...we break and it leaves such a mess. I wonder if God just sits and stares sometimes. I must be tough.

Karen Edmisten said...

Ruth, I love this! I know I'm echoing others, but it must be said - I just love the turn at the end. Perfect.

Whispers from the Ridge said...

Wow, Ruth! This is a very compelling poem. You did a an amazing job with this challenge!