Morning Glory–A Work in Progress

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the morning glories growing in my yard. I noticed myself spending more and more time sitting next to them with my computer in my lap, so I gave myself an assignment: Write a poem that explores your feelings for these flowers. Here’s what I wrote:

 

Morning Glory

There isn’t much left
When someone’s dead
The property sold
A shopping mall built
Where the house once stood
Just these morning glories
Outside my door
Twining through time
As urgently blue
As the ones she grew

 

I was pretty satisfied with this as a day’s work, but the next day I asked myself: Is this poem short because that’s what’s best or is it short because you were too scared to keep going? That’s when I gave myself a new assignment: Take what you wrote yesterday and use it as a starting point for writing today.

 

I’m still working on this one. I’m also still working on answering the question: How do you know when a poem is complete?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Laura at Author Amok.

(c) Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved.

21 replies
  1. Pauline Wood says:

    You have given me some food for thought and some striking images. Re completion: as you say, the morning glories keep on twining through time. Is your poem a captured moment, or is it a midpoint in the long twists of time. Is your poem too short, or is it perhaps too long?

    • lsteinglass says:

      Now that’s a question I had considered: Is it too long?
      A shorter version that cuts off after the death certainly feels different.

      Morning Glory

      There isn’t much left
      When someone’s dead
      Just these morning glories
      Outside my door
      Twining through time
      As urgently blue
      As the ones she grew

      Or maybe shorter still?

      Morning Glories

      Outside my door
      Twining through time
      As urgently blue
      As the ones she grew

      This is pretty interesting. I feel a new assignment forming in the back of my head.

  2. Janet F. says:

    I like your poem a lot and the thoughts it brought to you. I ALSO love your questions and assignment. Probing our minds and hearts through poetry, I like that aspect of poetry, too. And Pauline’s comment here about it being too long? Hmmmm. I think you are on to something here and I am curious where the morning glory will take you. Many places I imagine. (Note I left off caps and then decided that was interesting, too!) Not much left when someone is dead, how sad. The writer leaves her words. Now this is something. And progeny. But I feel badly that my son has no real concept of my grandfather! Only a few stories. Maybe there would be too much pain and loss if we mourned for everyone. OK, enough of my thoughts!

    • lsteinglass says:

      Janet,
      I left the caps off my longer second draft so it interests me that you felt inclined to do that too. My grandmother is also much more present in the second draft in a way. But before I do too far down that road I think I need to ask: what is this poem about?
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Bridget Magee says:

    Glorious poem and glorious Morning Glory photo, Liz! I like the thought that this plant lives on long past the person who planted it. I also like your assignments for yourself, they keep you digging deeper. I tend to gravitate toward short poems – as a writer and a reader. This is a question I will need to ponder, too. When is a poem complete? Hmmmmm….

  4. lsteinglass says:

    I got this idea of giving assignments to myself from a painter friend. That’s how she talks about her daily work. I find it somehow more useful and less block-inducing than “What shall I write about today?”

    • lsteinglass says:

      Catherine,
      Maybe one day you could take one of your poems and use it as a starting point for more writing. See where it takes you?

  5. Tabatha says:

    Hi Liz! I like that you are giving yourself assignments and playing with your drafts. My favorite is the shortest version. If you decided to make the first one longer, it might be nice to play with dividing it into two, three, or four line stanzas.

    • lsteinglass says:

      Tabatha,
      Yes, I have been playing with a longer version and yes, I have been experimenting with stanzas of four or five lines. I may have to share more drafts next week…
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Myra GB says:

    Hi there Liz, I loved these lines most of all:
    “Just these morning glories
    Outside my door
    Twining through time
    As urgently blue
    As the ones she grew”
    Beautiful flowers.

  7. maryleehahn says:

    I like your “shorter still” draft. Those favorite words/that favorite image “urgently blue” has a better chance to shine. There’s a palpable stab of sadness in that version (for me).

  8. readingtothecore says:

    Morning glories are a favorite of mine, too. “When is a poem finished?” is a question I struggle with. Often I’m afraid that I do rush to be finished, but usually this is more of a time issue. I agree with Mary Lee about the “shorter still” draft, although they’re all lovely. Thank you for sharing your poems and the thoughts about your process.

  9. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    I also love your discipline. Assignments are definitely useful for giving structure to my work AND to my day. Too bad I don’t have you over my shoulder to remind me of this regularly! I also love how your poem takes on the same “endless” twining quality as the morning glory vines. For me a poem is finished when it tells me it is… I try not to over think it.

    • Pauline Wood says:

      I love the ‘shorter still’ draft. ‘Urgently blue’ is so wonderful as it catches the carpe diem idea of the morning glories lasting a day and life being short. ‘Twining through time’ gives me the feeling of memory and legacy going on — she is still present with us through these flowers and thoughts. Thank you for sharing your work, it makes me think.

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