Writing the ordinary: ‘Madras Eye’

Sunday rose burns, blurs my vision, these thorns
crooked in my eye. The baby’s eyes wet
with rapid blinks and bruised petals along
his cheeks. Salt pastes the narrow groove beside
his eye, like mine, they sting, tighten, dry. We
are the same with our swollen nodes and sore
throats, our slippery symptoms and clean hands.
Blood vessels, like swollen roads in the white
of our eyes, the pulse, the tightening, tears.
At home we are contagious together,
waiting for the time to pass. Tomorrow,
when we are apart, we will wish for time
without fevers, without stinging pink eyes.

file0001607791613Contagion is a human spell very few of us can avoid altogether. At some point we all are vulnerable to falling ill. In this poem I was curious about a mother and child, a passing of illness, of love, of time. I thought about how I’ve been sick with my own children, cuddled in bed, both of us warm inside of each others’ fever and grasp. I love writing about those vulnerable moments, portraying life even when it’s messy.

Though this poem is not about a “lovely” subject, my sense is that poetry isn’t only about what is lovely. Our lives are complicated with emotion and events so why should those truths not exist in our poems? I appreciate how poetry seems to have an ability to carve beauty in the ordinary, even the awful. It seems more about capturing a snapshot, finding, noticing acute bright notes and darkened wounds, writing those experiences in candid verse with vivid detail and rhythm. This poem, an attempt at blank verse, aimed to capture this moment between parent and child, the time between illness and health, between pallid and pink.

How do you creatively write about the ordinary?

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Categories: Education, Inspiration, Writing

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