Dunes have to be sand dunes. Are there other kinds of dunes? Sand dunes are naturally kind of slippery because the sand slips as one walks up anyway; putting ooze on one is kind of painting the lily.
Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet, To smooth the ice, or add another hue Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
Ack. As if getting a verb yesterday wasn’t bad enough, today’s prompt had to be an abstraction. I mean — really? What are the options? There’s always the stand-by of Pandora’s box/jar; the potter could be throwing the container for the legendary woman who supposedly was endowed with all the gifts necessary to make a perfect woman. But I dislike the misogyny of the story.
Then there’s Emily Dickinson’s famous poem that seems to show up on home decoration plaques everywhere these days:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.¹
But the current ubiquity of the poem made the bird option seem trite. So I decided to go ahead and try an abstract representation. Right now, hope seems to me to be a fragile, fragmented thing, an emotion that is bright, but on the verge of disintegrating, rather like the lacy ice that forms on the edge of a pond or frost on a window.
1. Poetry Foundation, 19 October, 2020. Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)
Today’s word — throw — was difficult because my already unsatisfactory drawing skills don’t extend to comprehensible depictions of verbs. My first thought was to go with throw, as in throw rug or throw blanket, but I couldn’t see that going anywhere. So I pulled up the thesaurus and learned that throw also refers to a potter’s wheel. That option seemed much more promising than a blanket. So here we are:
I had rather hoped to give this poem a bit more narrative structure, but I think it’s going to depend more on evocation of mood and feeling than on story. At least it’s Hallowe’en season, so I’ll try to keep it a little spooky.
Writing a poem like this, one word at a time, with the words already chosen, feels a little like trying to channel someone else’s free-association session. It’s an interesting mental/creative exercise.
This poem emerges as sort of stream-of-consciousness installments. I looked up images of radio waves, hoping for inspiration, and after scrolling and staring at the screen and finding my mind wandering off, I finally thought that some of the depictions reminded me of the grooves in pumpkins. So the radio waves may be emanating from today’s pumpkin, or from the “bulky remnants” below, or both. I tried to make them meld into the wisps.
Having bulky come after wisp was a challenge, but I liked the inherent contradiction and the conceptual contrast. The art teacher I had in junior and then again in senior high school (Mr. Kinney moved to the high school when my class did; it was not for want of his trying to teach me that I did not become an artist) always emphasized the importance of contrast: “Lights on darks! Darks on lights! Contrast! Contrast!” — at which point, once, one of the guys jumped up and yelled, “Rah! Rah! Rah!” Good thing Mr. Kinney had a sense of humour.
Well, so far, so good. I didn’t spill water on the page, nor did I set it on fire, nor did I misspell anything. I will say that drawing wisps wasn’t easy, nor did I find a satisfactory way to do so. All I could think of was fog. We’ll see where the wisps lead us.