I’ve been ploughing through boxes and boxes of paper collected over the past 40 years, shredding most of it (old bank statements, the kids applications to college/university) and using the shredded paper to put the dahlias to bed for the winter. Waste not, want not.
Today I found a typed (yes… Courier on paper) poem written by Paul (son #1) as a book report for Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. It delighted me then and delights me still.
THE MRS. WHO, MRS. WHATSIT, MRS. WHICH SWITCH
by Paul Sean O’Connell
Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which
Did a switch
That changed the children’s material graph
So they could transport in a flash.
They transported to Uriel
In order to make their father get well.
(He had been captured by IT
And didn’t like it one bit!)
After, they went to Camazotz
Where they saw a man with eyes like red dots.
They found their father after all
And that is it, that is all.
I didn’t think I was a poet… it wasn’t until I went to the Molly Keane summer Writer’s Retreat in 2018 that I found a poet’s rhythm in my writing. But it was there before. Maybe it comes from being a singer—who knows. But I was thinking that I’d like to put what little pieces I have in this blog because trying to find them in emails or old journals is just too time consuming and frustrating.
This really came about today when I thought of a poem I wrote back in 2016 when I was traveling around the west of Ireland planning and designing the TravelBlogging Ireland student trip that my colleague June and I did in 2017 and 2018. On the rainy days when driving around back roads was just too daunting, I started doing the writing exercises in Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft—a way to turn a day full of lemons into written lemonade. More than a year later I came across it again and sent it to Renée Soto, a dear friend and colleague who also suffered migraines and was… a poet.
Reading it over now, having exposed myself to much more poetry in the years since I first jotted this down, I realize that it’s really “pros-etry”—but it could be pared down to essentials and turned into something better.
Excerpted from an email, November 30, 2017:
Subject: Because I know you understand…
I did this as a SHORT AND LONG exercise from Ursula LeGuin’s book Steering the Craft… The sentences are short enough to almost create poetry… what do you think? 😉
It starts with a stiff neck.
Slowly, a shadow spreads over my cheek.
A hot spot takes root over my eye.
It begins to throb.
And then it’s there—migraine.
Words are lost.
Time is an endless vortex.
I want to come to the end of it.
Once it’s rooted, my only hope is sleep.
But that’s not always possible.
Sometimes I work.
I burrow into a spreadsheet.
Pushing the pain away.
If I get outside myself it gets better.
And then, suddenly, it’s gone.
The pill did its work.
I am whole again.
But the day is lost.