One of my most memorable workshops as a peer tutor was a few days short of Valentine’s Day. As usual, I had brought a number of poems to discuss before giving the first of three writing prompts. But no sooner had I mentioned Valentine’s Day, than one participant (a dear, elderly spinster) vehemently objected saying that she had never been in love… knew nothing of love… and most certainly didn’t want to write about it!!
Scrambling to pick myself up off the floor, I explained that the poems I had brought as examples covered many aspects of love: love of country; love of parents; love of a pet; love of nature; love of music; or how about love of a woodstove on a cold winter’s morning?
Luckily, the pensioner took my meaning and forgave my insensitivity to her status as a woman without a loving partner. This experience has stayed with me. So many of my friends are single. Divorce, death, and distance have all played a part. And some friends are quite content to their lives alone-but-not- lonely. Not everyone is looking for a partner.
But LOVE, by way of Valentine’s Day, has reared its head again, and I am anxious. Tomorrow I drive to Salida where I’ll attend a Chaffee County Writers Exchange workshop led by Barbara Ford. The topic is writing about love. I’m not sure that I can do that. Writing about love is too personal… too intimate. I’d rather write about someone I met at the grocery store, or my husband’s building project, or this summer’s travel plans.
Looking for inspiration, I checked today’s Poetry Foundation website. I wanted a leg-up… some inspiration for tomorrow’s workshop. The site has many love poems, but what I liked most was the poems were listed under categories to include: classic, romantic, break up, teen, funny, sad, friendship, erotic, I miss you, and in loving memory.
As I had suggested during an earlier writing exercise, love comes in all forms. One of my favorite poems, categorized by the Poetry Foundation as ‘funny,’ was “Windchime” by Tony Hoagland. The poem begins: She goes out to hang the windchime / in her nightie and her workboots. / It’s six-thirty in the morning / and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest / tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch, windchime in her left hand, hammer in her right, the nail / gripped tight between her teeth…”
Ah! My kind of woman! My kind of poem! Hallmark need not corner the chocolate and flower market.
As an example, I’m closing with short-short, non-poetic piece that I wrote some years ago. The title is “Threesome.”
Hers was a Audrey Hepburn face. It was her face that had drawn John to her. One look and he was smitten. Just one, wild and wonderful weekend in Vegas, and John and Marie were married in a flurry of confetti.
It was only after they returned to their work-a-day life in Decatur that John realized that Marie was not exclusively his to love, honor, cherish and obey. John, Marie and Mitzi made three.
Mitzi was Marie’s teacup poodle. After Marie chose her own clothing for the day, she would go to Mitzi’s closet and choose a coordinating outfit for Mitzi. After dressing, Marie would set Mitzi on a stool at the breakfast bar. If Marie didn’t serve bacon, Mitzi sulked.
Marie would ask John, “Honey, what do you think Mitzi wants?” And John would shut his eyes as though by closing them, Mitzi would magically disappear.
Mitzi was never more than an arm’s length away. At night, Mitzi slept between John and Marie. John needed to observe Mitzi’s space. Such sharp teeth for such a little dog!
It was only after Mitzi snatched a piece of bacon off John’s plate that John cracked. Without forethought, John reached out and smacked Marie.
Marie’s lovely face crumbled. It was Mitzi who snarled at John and kissed Marie.