Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Poetry: Unforgettable

This week's writing prompt at writers island is unforgettable. And though I haven't read them yet - as I post this piece - I know that my fellow islanders have been writing unforgettable pieces of their own, and I hope that you'll go read them.

Before I share my piece, I have to tell you a little about what happened when I looked at this week's prompt. Usually, I take a look at the prompt when it is posted over the weekend, and I let it simmer in the back of my mind and heart until Monday night or Tuesday, when I sit down to write. And then, I write my piece in one pass, share it with my most trusted writing buddy for a initial review (basically: what does this do for you?), and then go back through a couple more times to tighten up word choice, rhythm, and the picture I'm trying to show. But most of the time, I try to muzzle my conscious, thinking, mind and let the images or emotions (or whatever!) flow freely from the deeper places within me. So my work tends to reflect the major themes running through my life at the time - and right now, that happens to be transformation and healing.

This week, I didn't look at the writing prompt until Tuesday morning. I saw it, and immediately heard the Unforgettable song, which is such a sweet love song. And I wanted to write a sweet love song of my own. But as I opened my editor to write, a love song is not quite what welled up from those deep places. At least, not a love song as we traditionally think of them. And this poem will sound a bit angry and hurting, but I really am well on the way to the healing and forgiveness at the end. As several of my poems this summer and fall have been, I do find that my life is shaped like the spiralling conch shells that litter the beach of our writers island here. And I have to pass the same place several times before I reach that deep center, where everything that is life-giving and holy and good and real can be found. So... enough babbling. On to the poem.


The words were unforgettable
razor sharp
now slicing precisely
now stabbing mercilessly

lazy, stupid
failure of a mother
failure of a wife
contrary bitch
slimy whore.
Words wielded as weapons
and you laughed
as you cut, beat, bludgeoned me
with your speech.
But they're just words,
you said,
as if words are empty
and have no power.

You were wrong.

Engraved on my heart
where they cannot be seen
are those unforgettable words
scars just as visible
as those I saw in the hospital
on the arm of a girl
who had slit her wrists
fat whore
incompetent bitch
I only married you
because I felt sorry for you.

I know I must forgive
not for you
but to reach peace for myself
and I struggle to find this
amidst the unforgettable words
I never knew what hatred meant
until I married you.
I still don't know what hatred means
but somehow
you will be released
and all those unforgettable words
the ones that scar my soul
you will find
that they have scarred yours as well
and I am sorry
oh, I am so sorry,
when you learn this.

I will forgive
and the unforgettable
will pass into the haze
of distant memory
But when you are confronted
with the unforgettable
will you be able to