“The creation,” Jeanne Murray Walker begins her sonnet, “was going well.”
Walker’s poem “The Creation” appears in her collection of sonnets, Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking. In it, the finch, the elephant, the sow — they came into being as dreamed. Wishes made into belief. But then, there is a giraffe.
“Then a giraffe / at the last minute, sprang up like Wow, / an exclamation point on legs.”
I chuckled at her apt description, and I delighted at the thought that this mysterious creature sprang up at the last minute.
Those unexpected creatures, the ones that pop up when I’m full steam ahead writing about something else, are my most confusing and my most favorite moments in writing. And why not let this exclamation point on legs loose in the world? Let’s ignore that stuffy collegiate rule, banning loud punctuation. Maybe she has another side: “[Her] fringy eyelashes / her voice, a bleat soft as a low laugh.”
Murray writes about the giraffe nuzzling her baby, the calf’s eyes still shut from just being born, and I think of my daughter’s eyes, almost eleven years ago, also still shut from just being born, and of me leaning in so carefully, the two of us alone for a moment in the hospital room, and me whispering, “Hello, Harper. Hello, baby girl.” I think that was the quietest, most powerful exclamation point I’ve ever felt.
Indeed, there is much need for exclamation marks in the world.
“Oh giraffes,” Murray pleads, “Remind me, / when all seems dark and sane, of mystery.”
This week, consider a mystery. It could be something mysterious about creativity, or creation, but try to pull out the wonder of it in your poetry.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Jody Collins we enjoyed
Steps to Picking Raspberries on the First Day of Autumn
First, avoid the bumblebees zooming in for latent sugar
Dripping in the rain, their heavy soaking reflected in
Drops from the satiated rubies you hope to pop in your
Mouth. Second, beware the mildew, mold and bursting
Moisture of berries too long on the vine, having missed the
Summer sun as you did, wondering at the absent heat lo, these
Many months. Three, cast a watchful gaze at ubiquitous spiders
Who’ve homed themselves midst the leaves, hiding (or so
They think) from the birds and maybe you. Their webs give
Them away, as do the smattering of mottled, rounded globes
In the bottom of your small bucket. Given away, alive in
Your hand so that lastly, you’ll swallow them, tiny yet tasty
Fresh and fruitful this first day of fall
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