Saturday, April 2, 2011

Juvenilia I

April is National Poetry Month. At the end of last April, I wrote about how much I love poetry and why I no longer wrote it. In recent months, with the strong support of friends, I have started writing poetry again. About two weeks ago, after throwing the challenge out to myself in February, I decided I would celebrate National Poetry Month by posting daily a poem of my own on my blog.

I should point out that I am not writing a new poem each day. I am posting poems I have written primarily in the last three months, sometimes in the last three weeks.

However, I felt strongly that, to the extent it still existed, my juvenilia should also make a brief appearance to show where I started from many years ago. Juvenilia is defined as "works of art, literature, or music produced in youth or adolescence, before the artist, author, or composer has formed a mature style."

Most of my juvenilia was destroyed in the Great Shredding of the 1990s. A few pieces are preserved in the small literary magazines our high school turned out twice a year, copies of which I still own.  My mother owns a few more pieces. And while I have not yet seen it, a longtime friend recently revealed that she still owned a spiral bound notebook containing my works from 1972-1973. This announcement galvanized me for two reasons, the first being the fact that some of my old, old stuff still existed, and the second being that I had made a similar notebook, now long gone, for Warren's high school graduation present in 1972. 

The following poem amuses me, even almost 40 years later, because it was written in response to my now brother-in-law, Brian. He was a year behind me in school, but my senior year found him in many of the same literature classes, as well as on the same academic quiz team. Brian and I were always friends, despite the heartbreak his older brother had dealt me. I liked him because he was bright and funny and because he reminded me a lot of Warren.

This was written in the fall of 1973, the start of my senior year. I wore an old-fashioned locket, complete with a picture of my then boyfriend inside it. When reading, I would absentmindedly fiddle with the locket, sliding it on the necklace chain, sometimes "missing" when I reached for it. During one such "miss," I looked up to see Brian staring at me with a "what is she doing?" expression on his face.


Lines for Brian

I feel embarrassed
      (trying to find the chain
      of my necklace)
that he should see me fumbling about my neck
      like an old woman:
it could have been a lace-
      edged handkerchief
or unfastened cameo brooch
on a vast expanses of dotted swiss bosom.

I should be dressed in slender silks and
      feathers: not mind-printed into a
dowagered old age.


Mountain Mama said...

What a wonderful poem! I can't wait to read more :)

Anonymous said...

How wonderful and curiously prescient. I mean how many 17 year olds are thinking about old age?

debbi said...

I remember this one! And the mental picture it created of us as old women.

Anonymous said...

You should go back to thinking about silks and feathers.