Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harbour abridged

Painted from the impression travelling over Auckland Harbour Bridge left on me: after I went to see Emily Perkins and Dylan Horrocks present their graphic conversation "All Hail Ellie". I think the real bridge is much bigger.

First up, huge thanks to Vanessa Gebbie and Zoe King for all their help and advice and for housing my story "Sticking the Needle In", and poem "Words With Charlie", in Tom's Voice. I'm extremely grateful. Vanessa is the author of Words from a Glass Bubble, a collection of very touching stories, as well as Storm Warning, which I'm looking forward to reading (more links on the side bar).

It's been a stressful few weeks: my husband was told his company's Auckland office was closing at the end of November. The options were: move to Wellington or get another job. Now his office is moving down the road and there's a reprieve until April. I've been feeling unsettled.

I was going to post a poem about writing a poem but Dick's posted one which cannot be rivalled. Hats off to you, Dick. So you've got a repeat (no pun intended). I posted this a while ago, then removed it, and now I'm posting it again. I've written a few poems about stuttering. My husband stutters. It's hard to argue with someone when you have to wait for them to insult you. Laughter replaces intended crimes of passion. He doesn't stutter with our toddler, nor with animals (you wouldn't catch me talking to the animals). Thanks to Donna and Thomas who spotted and left lovely comments on this the first time around. And apologies to Lori whom I confused at the time.

Aubade to Balbettare

Refused your words, gum in a torn pocket,

they are caught within the fabric of your

tongue. Confidence droops like a shamed face, set

to counter exasperation. Breathe. More

lowered, your lids self shield. Self-healed you start

again, and, and, and conversation stalls

till late at night, when all but one dear heart

can be heard, you speak into me. Crystals

hang sparkling about my ears: sentences,

uninterrupted, unfinished by choice;

utterances full-stopped by our senses.

Bodily parenthesis given voice

to mock Aurora before she scatters

your eyes with her curse of fettered letters.


Thomas Taylor said...

Rachel, you paint a very sympathetic portrait of your husband, and I immediately think I would get on with him. Anyone who talks to animals can walk with me.

Lori said...

I hope it all works out for your family, Rachel. And I wish you lots of strength throughout, which you have so much of, so I am sure you'll make the best of it.

And, yeah, thanks for letting the world know how slow and easily puzzled I can be! :) It was great to read the beautiful poem again.

Rachel Fenton said...

Crumbs, I made him sound like Dr Doolittle! Thank you, Thomas.

Thank you, Lori, we'll muddle through it all I'm sure.

And, for the record, WORLD, Lori is the sharpest lady I know!
(Not making this any better am I?)

Donna Hosie said...

I hope the job situation sorts itself out soon. It is a horrible feeling.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Donna. Interviews under pressure are not condusive to smooth talking!

Titus said...

Oh, pants to the unsettled situation and I hope the horizon positions itself more solidly for you all soon. Love the artwork!

And the poem is a real beauty, for tenderness is a hard thing to write and you've done it.

hebdenjoy said...

An excellent poem.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely poem. Why did you remove it the first time?

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, JoAnne. I'm not happy with the poem as is but without unpicking it all I'm not sure where to go with it so it's in the mulling it over again stage, where it may remain for some time.

Joe thank you. I appreciate you reading it.

Helen, thank you, I'm pleased you like it. I posted it (at a time we were decorating, so all my notebooks were packed away and I couldn't check whether I'd sent it anywhere) and then had a feeling I might have submitted it. Removed it until I'd checked.

Kass said...

This is an interesting poem. I really like the bodily parenthesis given voice....
...and the idea of someone speaking INTO someone else.

My son stutters. I can always tell when things are not going so well when I talk to him on the phone and he is staccatoed.

I hope you can see past April with confidence that things will work outl

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey there Kass, really good to hear from you. Hope you're well. Thanks for that feedback, it's good to know what works in a piece of writing.

How old was your son when he started to stutter?

As for April...well, any agents fancy taking a chance on my novel? What will be will be, I'll do what I've always done and just get on with it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Really appreciate it.

Teresa Stenson said...

I love the poem too. Hope the job stuff works itself out. Embrace whatever happens, good luck Family Fenton.

Talli Roland said...

I can imagine you'd be feeling unsettled after a week like that! Wow. I do hope everything gets sorted with the job!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks,Teresa. Embrace is what I'll do. I predict the tregi-com story count will increase...

It was a bit of a wake up, Talli. I'm sure we'll sort something out soon. Thank you.

Talei said...

Gosh, I hope things work out, its awful living with that unsettling feeling. Good luck!

Very nice pic of the bridge btw and lovely poem! ;)

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Talei, I'm sure things will turn out ok. If a cake doesn't rise it doesn't mean you can't eat it; it's still cake. My cake may be flat but it's what I have and I'm eating it!


Cheers for the compliments on the pic/poem (don't tell anyone what the bridge really looks like)!

Kass said...

My son started stuttering in the 2nd grade. I thought it was a temporary phase - the stress of school and struggling to find the right words, but I think his 2nd grade teacher was largely to blame. She had been thrown down the stairs by her future ex-husband and came to school with her jaw wired shut. She not only looked scary, but spoke with a clenched-jaw, built-in anger. She could tolerate the girls, but was especially hard on the boys in the class.

I took him to speech therapy and there are times he speaks totally normally. When he reads aloud and sings, he is fine, but stress seems to really be the determining factor.

When did it start for your husband?

Rachel Fenton said...

Simialr story in some ways; his mother claims he was traumatised watching a whale hunt on tv. He was four. Stress is a major factor. Phone talking is particularly challenging. I like to think I give him good practice :) He had speech therapy in childhood, and again in young adulthood, to the point where his stutter disappeared for a time but he stopped doing the exercises.

Thank you for sharing your son's story.

Group 8 said...

Beautiful poem. Hope the work-life situ gets sorted asap. N x

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Nu. It's a worry. In my selfish way I'm more worried I'll have to let go of my writing time and get a "proper" job. Me me me, eh.

Thanks about the poem.

Penny said...

I hope everything works out for you Rachel. I'm afraid I talk to the animals ALL the time, well mostly they are the only ones to listen! Penny x

Rachel Fenton said...

Haha, yes, there is that to be said! Thanks, Penny.

Anonymous said...

You just apologised for missing a few posts. You posted this great poem two weeks ago and I managed to miss it! So the sorries are mine.

Beautiful images - 'gum in a torn pocket...fabric of your tongue', 'Self-healed you start again', 'Crystals hang sparkling...', 'Bodily paranthesis...' And an audacious but on-the-money closer: '...with her curse of fettered letters'. Superb control of language throughout. Loved it.

Rachel Fenton said...

Well, Dick, with praise like this it was worth the wait. Huge thanks.

I seem unable to keep to a blogging routine. Sometimes I am in a bubble where time coils, whirs and shuffles outside as usual and everything but my kids and the words between us is lost in a metronomic storm. Can't believe I lost a week! Got lots of poetry written though. And you have no need to apologise - you have real reasons for absence. And thanks for the feedback, really nice to know when I'm hitting the nail instead of my thumb.