poem thirty: the end

OH MY GOD IT’S FINISHED.

Yes, here is my last poem for NaPoWriMo, and I’m still alive.

I saw a prompt some time ago about writing a poem giving thanks to a poet … I do not know where I saw that prompt. Anyway, I’m sort of thanking my tutors at university with this (writers, poets), but I’ve also ended up recognising the contribution my singing teacher from fifteen years ago made to my artistic life.

We are always learning. Too often we realise we learned something fifteen years after the fact.

(Also this poem is not to be taken as a good example that I suddenly know what I’m doing when it comes to writing. For one thing, I wrote it in 20 minutes. Until this month I’d never written anything in 20 minutes. And for another thing, I still have a lot to learn. Ask me again in another fifteen years.)

***

At eighteen I learned
to sing from my diaphragm,
how to hold and bend
the notes, how to breathe.
She told me talent did not
make you an artist.
She told me art was found
in what you could control.

I used to write poems
that didn’t make sense.
The words danced
but fell flat after one
pirouette, stumbled away
through the space on the page
and dragged themselves off stage,
saying “that’ll do”.

Eventually I began to learn
how to keep a poem
on its feet until the end
of the dance. I have to sing
to them: deep breaths, bend
the space around the words just right
so they dance in lines, smiling,
curtseying when the curtain falls.

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