Sunday, 2 July 2017

I'm Not a Poet But...

.. since when did that stop anyone from trying?

I've never really made a huge secret of my ambition to be a writer and the (oh so) long and textured path that I've taken towards finishing my novel. It shouldn't have come as any real surprise then when my brother and now-sister-in-law asked me to write a poem for the Communion Reflection for their wedding in May of this year.  Sure wasn't I only delighted?

Of course once the initial flattery and ego boost wore off, I quickly found myself edging closer towards a state of panic and peril... Who was I to write a poem? I mean, it was one thing to write a novel (or at least attempt to); I read novels all the time, they follow a reasonably strict outline and even the most Z list of the Celebrity Z list have written novels (with a lot of help). Sure anyone could write one (she said thinking about the manuscript in need of editing later this evening).

But poetry is different. It's far more niche, more subjective, more nuanced. The participants in the neighbouring poetry workshops during Writers' Week have always intimidated me with their bohemian style and philosophical musings over the coffee break, while us novel writing participants dived in eagerly for the last of the Custard Creams and discussed the traffic in Listowel.

I'll admit to having enjoyed poetry during my Leaving Certificate in 2005, especially Yeats, Heaney and Kavanagh, but I soon realised that it's one thing to appreciate poetry; it's a whole different ball game to actually write it.

And yes I'll admit to writing some poetry over the years; I have written poems for (1) my own wedding, ridiculing my husband's heightened level of vanity, (2) my friend Tanya's wedding, ridiculing her high maintenance approach to wedding planning and (3) my friend Sinead's wedding, ridiculing her perfectionistic approach to study and all things exam related. Like Yeats' appreciation of nature and unrequited love, my poetry has chosen the generic theme of "slagging". All these poems were read during the reception when it was appropriate if not downright necessary to generate a few laughs. I didn't think Sean and Cliona would appreciate me ripping the piss out of them in the most solemn part of their day.

I also have a talent for writing Limericks, but I similarly guessed that they wouldn't appreciate it starting with "There once was a couple who met in Coffey's Pub..."

So after months of procrastinating, with lots of prods from my mother about whether or not I'd started the poem ("yes of course I have Mam, I just don't want to read it to you until it's perfect..."), I finally finished it about a fortnight before the Big Day. It was a bit more rhyme-y than I'd planned but I was happy enough with the finished product.

My mother cried when I read it to her in our kitchen, but I couldn't really take much from that reaction given that her becoming emotional over anything to do with her son's wedding is as much guaranteed as my father getting annoyed over Kildare losing a match.

Sean and Cliona agreed not to hear the poem until I read it in the church, although Cliona suggested that I be accompanied by her friends Martina and Gillian playing the concertina and fiddle while I spoke. A 2 minute practice in the sacristy before the wedding started and we had it nailed. The girls' music captured the mood of my poem in a way that I never could have imagined and it was the finishing touch for my personal gift to my brother and new sister-in-law.

I'll admit to feeling proud and relieved when I read the last word, looked up and saw tears streaming down Cliona's face (and my mother's, obviously!) as she mouthed a large "THANK YOU!" while Sean scrambled for a tissue for his new bride.

So I give you, my first proper, romantic, non-slagging poem. I'll take bookings for future weddings through my Twitter page...

Love is a Circle

Love is a circle, a chain that is unbroken,
A means of communicating without a need to be spoken
A hope for the future, a fondness of what’s passed,
An answer to a question that no longer needs to be asked

A caterpillar to a butterfly, a bulb bursting into bloom,
A knowing smile and glance across a crowded room
Appreciating that person fully, in all their flaws and charms.
That familiar rush of comfort when wrapped in warm, loving arms.

It exists in shared laughter and stories, the in-jokes that no one else knows.
In the togetherness of exhilarating highs and the earth-shattering lows.
In the weekly shopping lists, mopping floors, unclogging the shower drain,
Appreciating the special magic in tasks that are so mundane.

It is seeing that person in a way that one else ever will
It is a crackle of electricity in a moment otherwise so still.
It is greater than yourself and the sum of all your parts.
It is the end of your world as you know it should that person ever depart.

It is compromise, respect and not always having your way,
It is a cup of tea and a kiss at the end of a long, hard day
Love exists from that moment that two soulmates meet.

A journey commences. The circle is complete.