Gentle Reader, this morning I was awoken by the mad tapping of inspiration behind my eyelids, at half past four in the ante-meridian. Oi. This is not an infrequent occurrence. As I have pretensions towards being a poet, I need to seize these moments, cherish them, and chalk it up to my madness, and artistry; I need to nail the iridescent aurora, the rare, expressive silk of my dreams, down, clear and firm, that others may read my mind, in the light of day, in black and white.
The night after the ex-husband and I had split up for probably the seventeenth time – he had thrown me, while sleeping, into a wall full of exposed nails* the night before – was among the first of these mad, desperate, awakenings for me. Like Athena, a sestina was springing forth, fully formed, from my brow, and I had to capture it before it fluttered away.
It’s among my favourite pieces, now. It begins:
“No ruby, no incense, no oil, no gold,
can capture the shine, nor the sparkle of eye,
nor the way that your tresses unbearably lie
In Memory’s coffers, for when I am old.”
And goes on from there, detailing all the treasures that he’s worth more than, and why. The peculiar thing – though I’ve edited it, rearranged bits, reworked the rhyme scheme, &c. – is that while it’s clearly from my brain, in response to emotional turmoil, all my best pieces wake me in the night with their urgency, like a new lover. It’s more as though I’m transcribing, taking dictation, rather than creating something from whole cloth. There are pieces that I’ve written that way, and they’re fine in their place – quite acceptable, though I say it myself – but they don’t hold a candle to my midnight visitors, written in euphoria, frenzy.
This morning’s offering is a bit spiteful. It’s about one of the crowd that I referred to a few posts ago – with whom I was once indispensable, and to whom I am now more lowly than the most vile puddle of vomit and hair that the cat just hacked up. Their den mother, their matron – a stout woman of middle years, with curling black tresses and a nasty glint to the mind. She left a foul taste in my mouth, like artificial sweetener, which was my last thought before going to sleep last night, after a mouthful of a diet soda. Urgh.
Stung at the unpleasant hour this morning, I first had to research – well, first I jotted down the impressions tattooed across my eyelids in slumber. Then I researched all the artificial sweeteners I could find, apart from Aspartame, whose pronunciation I needed before I could really proceed. I knocked together a rough couple of stanzas, with which I am moderately well pleased, and will need much cultivation and revising – and perhaps expansion – before they are through: I always allow a few days, or weeks, to allow the holy fire to cool down before attempting to work a poem into something presentable.
*The bit about the wall full of nails: In the bedroom we were sharing, there was a sort of nook, about the width of a queen-sized mattress, and a few feet deep. I had built what I termed a “slumber cabinet”, which consisted of a raised platform on which the mattress could sit, a large bookshelf/curio (facing away from the bed) as a room-divider, with cabinetry included for such things as liquor, clothing, and firearms. There were french doors painted with exotic birds, in green and gold, to enter. It was a wonder – from the outside. I have a habit of not finishing wood-working projects that I’ve started, and as a result, there were a crazy amount of nails holding the red velvet that back the curio portions of the outside of the shelves poking through into the bit where we slept. The nail side was usually Ex-Husband’s side, but that night we shifted oddly or something, and he was having an odd dream, and he PICKED ME UP, tossed me over his sleeping body, and into the nail wall. He was very apologetic when I told him about it, later.