Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Poetry Tuesday: "Safety Pin Sisterhood"

We are midway through the pre-order period for my forthcoming chapbook, Life in the Holocene Extinction--you have until April 22 to order during this very important time.  Go here to order your copy.  It will ship in June, and you'll have a lovely summer treat. 

You may ask, why not wait to order until it's ready?  Because the press run is determined by how many books are ordered in this time period.  If the sales reach certain levels, more books are published, and since a second printing is unlikely, it would be great to make it to some of those higher levels.

Here's a poem to whet your appetite.  I have been needing a poem that reminds me that all will be O.K., and so, I offer "Safety Pin Sisterhood."  It's based on a true story:  a young, female student appeared in my office with a broken shoe.  She said she would need to go home to get a new pair of shoes and could I please tell her Math teacher.  I thought that missing a class to go get replacement shoes was a mistake, and so I looked for a way to salvage her shoe so that she could get to class.

The experience showed me that I could stock some materials for future events:  safety pins and duct tape, neither of which I had.  Happily, my friend who was working nearby had a safety pin in her purse.

I saw the student later in the day, and our safety pin solution had held together.  Hurrah!
This poem first appeared in The South Carolina Review.

Safety Pin Sisterhood
I pin a student’s sandal
back together again and think
of graduate school.

I could tell this student
about the meaning of a broken strap
in fairy tales. In a novel,
this broken sandal would have semiotic
meanings that we could deconstruct.

But in real life, this student simply
needs her shoe fixed so she can slip
down the hallways to get to class.
I am a woman of safety pins and staples,
a spare pen, and the schedule that shows
where everyone should be.

What would Wordsworth say?
I already know: the world
is too much with us.
Keats would not see the beauty
in a broken sandal made of cheap
materials from China.

But Christina Rossetti would offer
a secret smile, as would Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
They, too, were women
with a safety pin or a spare set of socks,
women who ignored the theories
about poetics that swirled
around them while quietly
repairing the world with needles
and bandages and great poems
scribbled in the margins.

To see how this poem interacts with others, order my forthcoming chapbook, Life in the Holocene Extinction here.  You'll find other poems of consolation and hope, despite what the title might lead you to expect.

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