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.
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
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