9/9/08

Regarding night gardens

Just a poem today, for the night garden project. I wrote it with my best friend's daughter in mind. Heaven knows why I'd want to tell a two-and-a-half-year-old girl a thing like this.
Tinkerbell and the Butterfly Bush
(for Audrey)

It isn't true that Tinkerbell
came into our back yard at night,

to buzz around in sunny moon-
light and wait till my teeth fell out,

so she could carve a new tea set.
(Enamel's stronger than ox-bone,

and Tinkerbells pay well.) But I
sat in the hall window seat, fists

over my ears (to keep out bats),
my lost teeth tucked into my palm.

Our Black Knight bush stood tall enough
to brush the sill, and butterflies

clung high to its blue-velvet blooms,
so near to the pane you could see

their needle-noses poke into
each tiny trumpet. I thought Tink

might land there and wait, hanging on
by her little bare feet and hands,

just like a butterfly-- and I
swear the branch moved, though no breeze blew

as I pressed my nose to the glass.
It dipped beneath the sill and up:

a hundred eyes, each a tiny
orange flame, winked at me through the pane.

I didn't know that the Black Knight
kept all her eyes open at night.

It seemed we shared a great secret.
I'm loath to break her trust. But you

ought to know, and feel unafraid,
when Tinkerbell fails to appear--

or when something stirs in the night
where a butterfly should have been.

_______________

Edit: The "pre" tag seems to work! Thanks, Phiala!

Addendum: ...although the line breaks between stanzas don't seem to be working in Internet Explorer 6. (I don't know about IE 7.) So if you're on IE, the poem is in sixteen couplets-- it's not all one thing. The issue may not matter to anyone other than me, of course.

And another thing: Ah, just get Firefox and use that. It's better. IE stinks.

19 comments:

ariandalen said...

Cool!
I love how each of our voices are coming through on each piece.

Jess said...

Hi, ariandalen! Thank you. It's fun to see where the theme's taking everyone, isn't it? And it's such a great group of people! I feel really lucky to be involved. :)

AletaMay said...

One of the things I love about poetry is the efficiency of the words. This is not something that comes naturally to me at all!

A couple of things I particularly love:

sunny moonlight

Fists over my ears (to keep out bats)


By the way I am setting some time aside to look back on your blog and do some of the writing exercises. I have been looking for the LeGuin (speaking of efficiency with words -- at least in what I have read -- Earthsea stuff) I guess I 'll have to order it online. I am reading Writing Down the Bones and Bird by Bird... in my spare time. Hee.

spacedlaw said...

You definitely do not want bats in your ears indeed.
Well done you!
I'll raise you a frabjous!

Phiala said...

Hm, yeah.

And you can use the "pre" tag for enfolding your poem. I don't know if you can get tabs, but you can at least get indents with spaces.

Assuming blogger supports it, that is. It's standard HTML.

Jess said...

Hi, Phiala! Thanks-- I'll have to look into that. I tried <&nbsp>, and Blogger just didn't want to hear it, or any CSS I gave it. Stupid Blogger!

Thanks, AletaMay! :) The fists-over-my-ears thing is absolutely true-- I used to do that when I was little. Not to keep out bats. I'm not sure what I thought I was doing.

Great-- let me know how the exercises go! I felt like I leared a lot doing them-- it made me wish I'd picked up the book eight years ago. It is available on Amazon-- though sometimes Borders claims to have it.

I've read a few of Le Guin's short stories, but I haven't got round to the Earthsea cycle yet. Must stick that on my reading list.

Callooh! Callay! Nathalie, that's positively beamish of you. :D

Phiala said...

Oh good - random bits of geek knowledge win again! :)

I've done a little bit from the LeGuin book, but as always I'm much better at reading about writing than actually writing. This is a problem.

Jess said...

I did have to force myself to actually work with the book at first; I had to make myself get up early and sit down with it first thing. If it wasn't for the fact that I'll be teaching with it, I might never have done the exercises at all. (No fair if the teacher doesn't do the exercises, too.)

I actually got a lot more out of it than I realised I might by doing an exercise a day; it's really worth it. Considering the way the material's arranged, the book as a whole makes a lot more sense when you do them than when you don't.

Jess said...

Ah, crap-- I just found out that in Internet Explorer the indents show up, but not the line breaks between stanzas. ARGH.

Phiala said...

Well, we all know that IE breaks whatever it touches, right? But no line breaks? That's odd. It's supposed to, by definition, and it generally works. I wonder if it's because of something blogger did? It looks fine in Firefox (don't have IE to check it).

AletaMay said...

Huh. I have it open in both IE and Firefox and I see what you mean. Maybe you could try using a paragraph rather than a line break?

Jess said...

That there's a fine ideer, AletaMay. I'm going to try that.

Jennifer said...

That's brilliant, Jess! I read it aloud to myself once, then again, a little more slowly, almost whispering. That was fun! I love that the persona's experience is even more enchanting than the tooth fairy myth she refers to.

Jess said...

Hey, Jen! :) Thank you. I had to read this one aloud to myself a lot as I was working. I really struggled with this one, for some reason-- it took a long time to figure out stanzas and line lengths; it was kind of all over the place till I forced some parameters on it (eight syllables per line). Got there in the end, but phew! I guess not all of them can burst from my skull fully formed. :D

Nice avatar! I thought about using the one I made, but I'm fond of my Ally-con. Plus the other one's probably not a completely honest version of me.

pantagruel said...

Hey Jess!

I cannot wait to read through the rest of your blog. Especially liked the meter in the couplets. ;)

Jess said...

Hey, Val! Thank you, and welcome! :)

spacedlaw said...

And when can we expect something new in this place?
*nags*

Jess said...

When I figure out what it is I want to say about the unreliable narrator.

*is thinking*

Jennifer said...

Hello again! :) I find myself reading my work aloud more and more. It forces me to slow down, for one thing, and it helps me to catch wonky rythms—and to play up unintentional ones that I like.

I waffled on the avatar for a long time. I'd had an actual photo a while ago, but then changed to the pen and notebook, because I abhor all photos of myself. I can handle a cartoon version, though. :)

If I ever need one of those damned dust jacket photos, I'm going to sketch my own self-portrait. It will look something like this.

I love Ally-con!