Sunday, April 01, 2007

(Tell me why) I hate April Fool's Day

Ten years ago today my father died four days after a heart attack. Six years to the day before that, I attempted suicide. I remember the date of the second because my college roommate thought I was pulling a tasteless prank. To this day I can't believe she thought I would ever joke about something like that. It wasn't because it was April Fool's Day, it was because it was the day after Easter on which I had been happy and at peace and then on Monday I had to go back to class. By strange coincidence March 31st the year my Dad died was also Easter Sunday. Technically he died on the 31st in California but I got the call after midnight my time and it was on the first that I had to deal with it--take it in. I've never liked the day and I really don't like it now. I think (but I'd have to check a calendar to be sure) that my husband's suicide attempt was also April 1st. I'm not kidding. I dread working new jobs when it falls during the week because I never know if someone's going to be clever and do something stupid. I might punch them.

Ive been working on a poem for about six weeks now and I'm really not happy with it. I've written pages and pages that are neither good poetry nor even decent prose. I started with some lines I'm pretty happy with, but I go back and forth between thinking they're really clever (goosing the cliche) or really, really self-indulgent:

I'm stealing when I say
April has always been cruel to me,
and again, here to say,
it is my Lazarus month,
only you did not rise
again like an April Fool
as I did. And which of us
bargained better?

I am very close on a middle bit that may or may not turn out to be a sonnet. When I realized it had some accidental rhyme I started poking it to make it a sonnet and it fit surprisingly well at first, but then the meaning started to be fudged for rhyme and I stopped trying to squash it into form. This is a sentiment I developed after his death and I think it's a very good metaphor. This is the pulled back but still semi-stylized version:

If I should lose the little finger, say
Of my left hand, I could learn to type around.
And all the instruments I do not play
Would prove no sadder loss than now.
Other things I do requiring dexterous skill
Could be--as good or almost--learned again.
Most days I should not feel its loss at all
Until it was as if it had never been.

(Here's where structuring falls apart)

Yet, there would come a moment when
Performing some small but delicate task
I should find myself at a loss unable to continue.

(and I really don't know where to go here)

Most days I hardly feel your loss. Other's advice and comfort
could suffice. But one thing in sixty say, could only be answered by you.
Something irreplaceable is gone and I put my head in my hands and cry.

Perhaps I'm being overly ambitious. I want to weave in more of the world from those ten strange years and back down to the personal. I've never had success with a planned poem before. My best poems come nearly fully formed or are short enough to wrestle. Suggestions welcome. I'll keep you posted.

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