Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13: Stuart Dybek, New Poem, Work

Well, I postponed the Spiritual Autobiography Workshop until the fall.  I spoke with the remaining participants, and they all agreed with the decision.  It was a little disappointing to me.  I really believe in writing as a spiritual discipline, and I really want to start a spiritual writing ministry at church.  However, most people think of writing as something frivolous and useless.  Even with great writing sessions, when I pour everything I have into leading a writing group, the workshops I've taught have only managed to attract, at most, five or six people at a time.  I don't know how to change people's perceptions.

Today, I've been thinking about something writer Stuart Dybek once said in a fiction workshop I took from him.  He said that not enough people write about work.  He was a big believer in stories about the workplace.  For some reason, out of everything he said in that class, that observation has stuck with me the most.  I have to say, I love reading poems and stories about work and labor.  There's built-in tension and conflict at work.  Work has its own vocabulary.  It lends itself to writing.

Stuart Dybek--a great writer

The poem I wrote today is inspired by my job in a medical office.  I love the terms and language involved in medicine.  The words have a definite beauty.  So, when I sat down and started to write today, that's what I focused on.  My work.  The result was a language poem, focusing more on sound and music.  It has a little narrative to follow.  Not much.  Above all, it's about the words.  How they feel in your mouth, on your tongue.

Writing is important.  At work.  At home.  At church.  In your relationships with spouses and children and siblings and parents.  And God.  Writing really is life.

Saint Marty shares a little bit of life with you today.

Poetry in a Medical Office

A cavern echo in chest, lung,
Pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza,
A roar, deep in a salt mine,
Full of subterranean stream, pool, lake.
Arthritic survey, scan of every joint,
Vertebrae to shoulder to phalanges,
Search for calcifications, densities,
Thinning and thickening of bone.
Masses, suspicious shadows
In the hump of breast tissue,
Mother, grandmother in the balance
Between health and prognosis,
Lunch and needle biopsy.
Swollen belly under green shirt,
Umbilicus, a knuckle, a snail
On the dune of childbirth,
A slow crawl from conception
To gravida para, that day
When the blur of black and white
Opens its mouth, sucks oxygen
The first time, howls placental blood.
In this place, hope digitizes,
Transmits, becomes talisman, prophecy,
Sacrifice, pieces of goat and ram,
Heifer, a dove as white as sugar,
Killed, carved, spread
On an altar to be read, interpreted,
Like dreams of famine, fertility.
Fat cows or hungry wolves.

Not my medical office, but close enough

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