May 1, 2011

Beltane Cleansing

Last night, my household celebrated Beltane, the pagan holiday that celebrates the first of May and includes a cleansing ritual, fire, wine, and human sacrifices. With no spare humans to sacrifice, one of my housemates decided to burn drafts of her thesis and I decided to burn all my rejection letters.

I don't know why I kept onto my rejection letters for so long, but ever since I started getting them, I've saved them. I suppose that I was attempting to humble myself, or keep a log of nice notes, or have some physical record of failure, but mostly, I kept them because I always have. Now that most of my rejection letters come via e-mail, the pile has lost most of its sentimentality. So at this point, I just wanted to get rid of the damn things. The Beltane fire offered a rather dramatic way to do it. The drama was only heightened by a fire dancer who came over and did her thing, which looked a lot like magic.


The semester is nearly over, and so is my MFA. I turn in my thesis this week, and after not touching it for the last month or so, now I have all these ideas as to how to change it. I came to the conclusion that many of the new poems may actually still belong in the first manuscript, so now I want to break it open, add the new ones, take out some others, and reorder it all again for something like the 12th time.

National Poetry Month has come to a close, and the first half of the month was much more productive than the second half. All said and done, I missed eight days, but it's more optimistic to say I got 22 poems out of it,  which is great, even if most of them are pretty early drafts.


I really love the way Theodore Roethke's poem "The Lost Son" opens:

1. The Flight

At Woodlawn I heard the dead cry:
I was lulled by the slamming of iron,
A slow drip over stones,
Toads brooding wells.
All the leaves stuck out their tongues;
I shook the softening chalk of my bones,
Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time. 

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