Friday, May 22, 2009

A Prickly Secret

Penned in a boxcar, wanting to run, I am a horse ready to ride.
The door opens, but this is the wrong master.
I cannot run from this secret tether.

I know these hands, but tonight they are coarse, like burlap,
Prodding at the blanket ... why does he do that?
Wrinkles hide the darkest shadows.

He looks at me with eyes that don't belong to me.
I want to see what shouldn't be happening.
He shrouds his intent.

A tongue pushes against my teeth, searching.
This new fire makes my bedroom air feel like needles in frost,
Like a prickly secret.

A pinch, and the dull relief shows the pain was pleasure.
Startled, red eyes tear up with confusion.
"Let's not tell Mom."

I am a bad girl ... I am a soon woman,
My mind bellows when my mouth won't speak.
Is there any difference?


campbelk said...

Oh my gosh Chloe.. What definitely struck me was "Let's not tell Mom". Wow, at first I thought your were describing what the "typical" setting of the painting transpired. Which is a forbidden relationship. The way you translated it as a Dad's inappropriate sexual relationship with his own daughter is very brave. I encourage you to continue to push the boundaries on our next blogs.

Kara Caviness said...

I agree with the other comment. My stomach actually went sour when I read those words. I could feel the confusion , the shame, and lastly the fear. I enjoyed the way you took me through the scene with you, even though the scene was not so pretty. I think I may have a nightmare tonight!

Jordan Dee said...

There is so much emotion in this poem. You did such a good job at creating a setting. If I had not seen the painting you clearly painted a new one in my mind. You also showed an extensive vocabulary which I think made the poem that much better. Well done!

sallylynn said...

Chloe ~

Wow. This poem does terrific work with strong, vivid language to create tension -- the initial metaphor of the horse trapped and itching to run sets the tone and provides the reader with a bit of the desperation that is to come. You strengthen the poem further with the move toward sensory details rooted in tactile sensation -- the burlap, the "prickly secret," the needles, the pinch. Those details that keep us from seeing anything, but rather ask us to feel all these frightening, rough, painful sensations are really effective in creating and enforcing the unwanted experience. Your final stanza, with the "bellowing" mind and the silent mouth, then, is more powerful, because we haven't "heard" much throughout the poem -- it's been very silent. You also develop a lot of tension by choosing carefully what is revealed and what is held back, and at what pace.

Keep thinking about how you might sustain the metaphor of the horse throughout the poem -- the burlap, with its connotations of farm and stable, does a good job of continuing the metaphor, which makes the experience of the poem richer and more powerful. Think, too, about where you might break lines to create more tension -- we'll be talking about this pretty soon in the class.

Great work, Chloe -- a powerful poem.