That sounds like a description of my writing frequency.
Actually it's a kind of poem that is written to commemorate a specific occasion. I've done several, including poems my parents required at Thanksgiving to be read before the meal. One year, it would be the sons' turn (there were four of us) to write and read the poems. Then the next year it would be the daughters-in-law's turn. (Someone in the group would always go for the sentimental statement, but mostly we went after the laugh.)
Occasional poems are never really easy to write. There are several reasons. The two most immediate reasons that come to mind are, first, they need to be focused on the specific occasion, and, second, if you're writing a poem for it, the occasion is probably very significant and deserving of your best effort. One of the challenges is to not "force" the imagery to fit the situation. The poet needs to let the poem, to borrow an image from Frost, ride on it's own melting like an ice cube on a hot stove. But sometimes poems go where you don't expect them to go. So, how do you reign them in without reigning them in?
Another challenge is they are usually very public poems. They are often meant to be read at the specific occasion. That's a lot more pressure than a poet experiences at a typical poetry reading. Yes, you want your listeners to get it, and they always have their own preconceived notions. But with an occasional poem, you know what their notions are. Or at least, you know what they think their notions are.
This poem created extra problems for me. When my oldest son got married, he asked me to write a poem for the ceremony. Then he asked his brother if he would read it. I don't write under a deadline, and I don't like to think about embarrassing my family when I write. So it wasn't an easy task. I decided to write a double sonnet. It took several months of writing and revising while I worried whether I could measure up. This is what I came up with.
For J and R
When I was small, I had a place to be
That I called home, and all my world was there.
The sun, the stars, the wind were mystery,
Each day a jewel, and wonder everywhere.
The seasons changed. I watched the snow outside
My window, saw the crocus where the snow
Had been. I saw the birds of summer glide
Above the fields and watched the sun dip low
Against the southern sky. Then suddenly
My home had grown too small, the rooms too spare.
I watched the birds assemble in the air,
Rehearse their flight, then vanish from the trees,
And I was seized with longing, a need to go
Where they had gone, to know the things they know.
The world around me changed. The wind brought
Melodies as sweet as figs, and I could see
Horizons glowing as gold as apricots.
But when I started out, I never thought
I’d find a place to mean as much to me
As home--or as the place I once called home,
For when I turned around, it wasn’t there,
And all the things I’d found I couldn’t share,
Until today, when we as groom and bride,
Come before these people and say as one
That we have found a place to be. I’ve come
To be yours and you to be my journey’s guide.
I say before the world I’ve found a home.
I say to you my home is at your side.
For J and R, Saturday, November 18, 1995
Nashua, New Hampshire
© copyright 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved