Thursday, May 24, 2012

Right To Life

Right to Life

Last night I dreamt I flew 
all the way to the moon
to pick up a tiny square
of cardboard and a paperclip.

Today I watched the corner
of an envelope float down
from a shelf and land
on my stapler.

I thought about the dream
and my dead child and finally,
decades later, I realize it is time
to piece the scraps of me together.


  1. Hi Dee,

    I read this as a poem about a woman who had an abortion a long time ago, has recently had a dream about the unborn child, and is coming to terms with the abortion now.

    My first suggestion is to find a new, less politically loaded title. I am happy to hear about another person's's experiences with her body and her life, whether or not those experiences are much like my own. I am not so happy to be evangelized about what my personal stance on abortion should be or how I should manage my personal body, which is the direction the current title pushes it in. (One could take issue with "dead child", but I think that would be falsifying things; you are telling me how the narrator thinks about the experience in her own mind, not making claims to universal, objective representation.

    A lot of this draft feels telly and disembodied--especially the transitions between strophes. "Last night I dreamt" is reporting, in a place where you could show your narrator waking from the dream. I'm also not sure how she's meant to get from "last night" to "today", or what physical and mental state she's in when she reaches "today". "I thought about the dream" is less engaging than reporting the string of thoughts that gets your narrator from dream to dead child.

    In general, I think that centering this on your narrator's immediately environment and experiences will help you to avoid concerns about preachiness. I am tempted to draw back and look at the poem from the cold standpoint of argument, when your communicative ends (if I've got them right) are better served by the reader getting close enough to view the story with empathy.

    Thanks for the poem--I know this subject matter gets into weird personal territory very fast, and I appreciate the guts and trust it takes to discuss it.

  2. *immediate environment.

    And here is the close-parenthesis I mislaid. )

  3. The poem's good but the title weighs it down. It's a loaded phrase, though maybe that's what's important, trying to piece together the components in the dream -- the stuff of bureaucratic nightmares -- paperclip, cardboard, staple, envelope -- so the words 'moon' and 'dead' and 'baby,' and 'float' -- do stand out. But they don't hurt.

  4. Sorry I took so long to comment but I had my 5 grandchildren (all under 4) for a week so my kids could go on vacation...that won't be happening again for a long, long time.

    Rachael, I certainly didn't mean to preach, because I hate that. Either I cut too much out of my original draft for the true meaning of the title to come across, or (most likely) I picked a really bad title. I guess it's back to the drawing board with this one.

    Thanks you both for taking the time to comment, very helpful comments.