Monday, November 10, 2008

First Draft

The Cockle Picker’s Wife

A woman hangs her blacks

(post removed)

11 comments:

Dominic Rivron said...

Wonderful! This feels like the first draft of a spectacular poem to me.

Wondered about the continuity in the 4th stanza:

on her head.
She keeps cockles in her bed,
picks them by night under moonlight.

What about something like (this isn't exactly right, I know):

on her head.
Then [later?]by moonlight she picks the cockles
she keeps in her bed

It just sets the moonlight scene slightly instead of jumping into it. Could be wrong, of course.

Do the oystercatchers rest their legs or their feet? Might they grasp her head with them, rather than rest them? Dunno.

Sorlil said...

I'm glad you think so, Dominic, thankyou. Thanks for the suggestion, I've found myself stumbling over that part also. Fair point about the oystercatchers, I'll have a think about that

Dave King said...

An absolutely delightful poem. Loved every syllable!
And while we are on the subject...
If you have dropped by Sharon's blog recently (and if you have not, you really ought) you will know that she has been good enough to pass some (4) awards on to me, which I have been pleased to accept. The condition of acceptance is that I in turn should pass them on. This I am glad enough to do, and for that purpose have picked out those blogs that have given me the most pleasure over the longest period of time. Yours, I am happy to say, is one of those. If, then, you would like to visit my blog and copy the visuals to yours, please do so. Obviously, there is no coercion here. If you decide not (for whatever reason), that is not a problem. If you do accept, please pass them on in your turn.

Frances said...

I love this sea-girt poem. My only quibble is that whoever the 'him' in the last stanza is, he's spare. I feel the mollusc haven is just fine without him.

An Honest Man said...

I have to admit m first reaction was 'what the hell is this all about'.

Luckily I gave it a bit of time (I'm getting older and I'm not as fast on the uptake as I was!) and it finally clicked.

I've got to agree with the comments on the slightly awkward transitions, but on the whole I like it.

Jim Murdoch said...

Why 'The Cockle Picker’s Wife'? Isn't she the one doing the picking? I've read enough of your stuff now that I'm starting to get a feel for how you write and I don't strain for the meanings my poems demand. They evoke rather than ... well, poke. There's not much in this that troubles me. I'm not fond of 'sonar' because it's a machine-thingy and her life has nothing to do with the modern world. You really could lose 'sonar' completely and it would work. It made me think more of a mother's call to her childen to come in for the night. Also 'rib' - would 'ribbed' not be better?

Fiendish said...

"At her sonar call the heart-shape shells
uncover themselves, rise from the sands.
Their rib mouths yawn, part

under her touch"

This is just beautiful. Although Jim wonders why she's the cockle-picker's wife when she appears to be picking cockles, it makes perfect sense to me: she sees herself almost as an extension of another person. It's a gorgeous draft, I really enjoyed it.

Sorlil said...

thanks dave, I'm glad you like it. I'm really touched that you want to pass the awards on to me, thankyou.

hi frances, thanks for that, hmmm I didn't intend to be so cryptic.

thanks honest man for giving it a second reading! I'm glad you like it, thanks for confirming the bits that need reworked.

interesting reading of it, jim. since you ask - the gist of the poem is that the cockle picker is dead (presumably an accident while cockle picking) and the wife collects cockles to bring her close to, and possibly evoke the presence of, her husband. However you know me well enough, I'm not fussed if you take a different reading of it as long as you are able to get something out of it. thanks for the points you make, I'll think about them when redrafting.

Hi fiendish! thankyou for reading, I'm glad you like it. thanks for your reading of the poem, very nicely put.

Rachel Fox said...

Very evocative - coming from a family of many widows I like this...from the washing line to the grim bath at the end.

shug said...

Can I suggest you ditch some of it to ease the image flow and the rhythm? Try it without

-rest their pink legs
-sonar
-uncover themselves
-ramshackle

I think it would sound better

and if I were you (sorry the only way I critique is to try and write it myself) I would unload the last two lines -while spores of him and plankton soaks into her pores- which sound faintly ludicrous and not up to the rest. (I know this means leaving out the only direct reference to the cockle picker and leaves the poem ending on one line but 'the waters flow over her head' is a damned good and mysterious line to end on if you ask me).

Your poetry is dreamily beautiful at its best. I really enjoy it.

Sorlil said...

hi rachel, thankyou, I'm glad you like it.

hi shug, thanks so much for the helpful suggestions especially for the ending, I think you're right. and thankyou very much for the compliment, being a fan of what I've seen of your work I'm delighted that you like my poems.