Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 9: The Plunge


The Plunge

Wake to deep thumps,
loud and fast.
Heart pounds against chest,
tries to leap out of prison
through the rib cage.

Lifted hands feel detached,
look blurry in the pre-light—
shaking, or fuzzy product
of seeing the morning world
through cobwebbed eyes?

Thirst creeps in,
dry lips and shaggy tongue,
lingering taste of sweet metal,
like aluminum coated in honey,
chewed through the night.

Hand mystery solved:
they grab a glass of water,
pull in to drink;
tossed drops splash over lips,
cheeks, fingers.

The wet fingers drop the glass,
claw over nightstand's oak,
clutch medicinal candy.
Devour, breathe scent of sugar
that chases today’s first panic.
This poem looks to describe the sense of waking up to low blood sugar, something most Type 1 diabetics experience from time to time, and something that, based on my experience and that of others with whom I've spoken, epitomizes the most helpless moments of dealing with that condition.  The challenge, of course, is writing a poem that can bring back to that experience someone who has not felt it.
The problem of unshared experience, in poetry, finds two primary solutions.  One is to use metaphor to draw these connections, and the other is to ground the poem in the senses, to re-create linguistically an experience in touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound.  I took the latter approach here.
To me, poetry that looks to share overtly emotions or thoughts generally falls flat.  This stems not from denying the validity of an emotional experience, but rather from acknowledging and respecting the unique nature of an emotional or mental impression.  Instead, the best poetry evokes mental and emotional notes through the senses as a place where we can connect.  That place is the one I aim for here, with stanzas organized to move through the sensual experience.
Finally, there is a detachment built linguistically into the poem, in that I avoided any first or third person references or possessives.  In this I meant to represent the sense of a body not in tune with the person.  The risk is that the detached language might pull back from the intensity of senses, but I found my initial draft felt less intense for being in first person.  That may hold psychological implications for me as reader of my own work, but it represents a consciously chosen path by which to lead this exploration.

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