At the Festival of Faith and Writing last weekend, I was absolutely humbled and blown away by the excellent poetry I heard. Not that I heard all that much, but even just the snatches I heard make me want to throw in the towel on this whole sonnet thing.
…no, that’s not entirely true. But I have realized just how lazy I’ve gotten: I’ve looked at most of my old stuff and been like, eh, good enough. No, I should be rewriting everything much more actively; if it’s not worth the rewrite it’s not worth publishing even here.
Even my newer stuff could use more shoring up than I give it. I was in a workshop one of the mornings and showed the instructor my Easter sonnet. She skimmed it and skimmed it again. “Oh,” she said.
“Is that a good ‘Oh’ or a bad ‘Oh,'” I asked?
It turned out she actively liked the last six lines. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe 6 out of 14 is enough. But it could be—should be—better.
And then I sat in on a session by Fantasy/Sci Fi author Jo Walton and was completely blown away by her sonnets. Take this one, for example: not a sonnet, but wonderful.
Today’s sonnet has absolutely nothing to do with any of this, except for the fact that (a) it’s recent and (b) of course I didn’t majorly revise it; that takes effort and time, and who has that?
As a note, even though this is pretty recent, I don’t remember the specific trigger. We’ve been going through Genesis in Sunday School, so that was part. And I think this is a small tribute to the many, many women I’ve known who have had miscarriages.
Originally written February 13, 2018
Did Sarai one night lean on Abram’s side,
When they were yet still young and unafraid,
And say, with just a hint of holy pride,
To her beloved husband, that they’d made
A baby, growing deep within her womb—
Perhaps ten or twelve weeks of growing strong—
She’d missed two cycles of the glowing moon—
Did Sarai have to tell him she was wrong?
That it, and part of her own soul, had died
That it had passed before it had grown lungs—
Or that nothing had ever grown inside?
How deep was Sarai’s grief when she was young?
Yet still, though disappointment doused hope’s flames,
Inside her, one small flicker yet remained.