Monday, 29 December 2008

Where do Poems Come From?

I was given the book Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney by Dennis O'Driscoll for Christmas (no, Mr O'Driscoll didn't give me the book he wrote it). And last night as I was reading it I was given to remember my first school friend Maria. This gave me an idea for a series of poems.

Maria was very pretty and always enviably dressed in floral A-line frocks: crisp as country house napery. She had hair like Nigella Lawson, long limbs, and I wanted to be her. Our friendship didn't last. She soon deserted me for cooler girls. That was the first time I knew what loss was. I remember sitting in the playground and seeing her with her new friends running up to the sports field and wondering what went wrong. But I also remember a sense of inevitability. I wasn't the right sort.

Thirty or so years later I saw Maria again. She was the size of a small farm and I didn't recognise her. I only noticed her because she looked peculiarly happy to see me, then rather pained when I failed to return, with my forced smile, her sentiment. I had to ask my sister, once we were out of earshot, who she was. She didn't know either but later, over supper, we worked it out, and then I felt terrible.

Terrible in a 'serves her right' sort of way it's true.


Conan Drumm said...

I gave a present of the same book this Christmas, and wish I'd been the recipient too!

I now know the answer to "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" You just wait til they go away!

The World According To Me said...

That's what you get for dumping someone for the cooler kids!

The book sounds like a great read.

Eryl Shields said...

Conan ~ hopefully your giftee will lend you the one you gave.

World ~ quite!

debra said...

I've not read the book you mentioned, Eryl. I have, however, been left for those who were deemed more: more cool, more????? I never did understand why when it happened. I ran into a guy I once knew. He approached me and apologized profusely for not inviting me to a party he'd had when we was 13.
Once I figured out who he was (and he looked poorly, at best), I told him that I had no recollection (of him, as well as the event.)
Ah, guilt, the gift that keeps giving.

Eryl Shields said...

The book was only published this year and quite recently I think.

It was nice of that chap to apologise, just think it must have been playing on his mind all that time!

I might have to have a tee shirt printed with 'guilt, the gift that keeps giving', it's so true!

scarlet-blue said...

When reading this post and comments, I chuckled and said 'ouch' a few times.
Indeed, poetry!

Happy New Year!

Brave Astronaut said...

I must admit there was a part of me that only went to my high school reunions to see who would show up. I was not the most popular kid in HS and it was nice to go back and have a good job and a great family and see all the jocks, with their paunches and balding heads and the cheerleaders with their um, you know, enhancements, and their death grips on their misspent youth.

That's the thing about guilt, there's enough to go around, so you don't have to hold onto it for very long . . .

Blessings of the season to you and thank you for your frequent visits and comments!

Eryl Shields said...

Scarlet ~ my favourite poetry definitely comes from the ouches.

Happy New Year to you to, X

BA ~ I can totally see the appeal of those reunions!

Have a great New Year with your great family.

Mary Witzl said...

On a rare trip back to my hometown years ago, I saw one of the jocks from high school who had tormented me, standing in line in a K-Mart, a snot-nosed toddler in his shopping cart and a stubble on his chin. He was wearing a dirty white tee shirt and looked like he hadn't had a decent night's sleep for a couple of weeks. And he ogled me. That was so weird -- he ogled me, the class nerd. Clearly he did not recognize me and did not remember the hateful things he used to say to me.

Twenty years later when I had snot-nosed toddlers of my own, I felt a flicker of compassion for him.