Sunday, June 9, 2013
This is my mother when she was pregnant with me. Isn't she beautiful? I remember this photograph. We were looking for baby photos of me, to compare to my own children, and for my mother to attempt to embarrass me with my husband, those bare-bottomed photographs, maybe the ones where I wear my father's dress socks hiked to my hips, no underwear, some strange woolen hat on my head.
When I began to write what is currently called Tethering (previously was P I N E, and before that, nicknames, like (in)fertility book, and I hope a better title crashes into me soon because Tethering isn't quite electrifying me either), it was just going to be about my body as medical object and the journey would convey from there. But my mother, who also has (had) PCOS, began to creep in. And my relationship with my mother, which had blips that were difficult in ways that are relevant to the book. There's none of our high school years screaming up and down the stairs, none of the lock-myself-in-the-bathroom poems, but maybe one day, when I have teenagers instead of toddlers, I'll write those poems. For now, I am thinking a lot about my own mother's journey to parenthood. I thought a lot about it when I read Ghost in the House, which is about depression and parenting and began to understand why things happened the way they did and how I can try to control my(self) relationship with my own children in a positive way. I begin to understand self through the lens of other.
So the book is still about that (in)fertility journey of my own, but there's also how I learned about womanhood through her, how I learned about the body. The mother is the source of all that.
In some ways, I question myself for wanting to generate again. This book could be many, many times the size it actually is, and I'm grateful that it is not. So many poems have to be written to get to the actual manuscript. So much needs to be discarded. I always told my students that writing exercises are as relevant as theatrical rehearsals or sports practice or anything else you could compare this to. You must keep your brain a-buzzin' and you have to be ready to let go of so much work because it won't all make it to the end. And that's OK. Because what you'll have in the end, at least I hope, with Tethering, will be something to be proud of.
This one will come from a sequence of questions I asked my mother, and she kindly responded. I hadn't thought to do this interview until I was sitting in workshop with Susan Power, who had us create interviews for fictional characters, just to see where it would lead us. Mine led me to pushing my own mother to help me generate material. I wanted to create a more three-dimensional mother; who else to help me do that than the person herself?
OK, new poem, I'm coming for you.