Create the following lists:
1. List 1 – 3 random objects. (Smaller tends to be better.)
2. List 1 – 3 random but specific locations. (Think in the cookie jar, or under my seat…)
3. List 1 – 2 objects you’ve lost and a few notes on their back-story.
4. List 1- 2 objects you’ve found and few notes on their back-story.
Now, choosing an object from List 1, a location from List 2, and connect them in a poem with ideas from Lists 3 & 4 and Voilà! A fortuitous poem! As an example of a finished “fortuitous” poem, here is Elizabeth’s own “State of Grace”.
OK, three random objects:
1) a dead flower in a bowl of water
2) my glasses
3) a birthday card
Three random but specific locations:
1) on the dining room windowsill
2) under the tablecloth
3) behind a forsythia bush
Two objects I’ve lost, and their back story:
1) My mother’s pearls, which my dad brought back from somewhere in Asia when he was in the Navy during the Vietnam War. She never liked them much. They were an awkward length, but then years later, when he offered to add to them, she didn’t want that either. I wore them when I got married and a few other times. I know they’re “somewhere,” but I feel very guilty about not knowing exactly where.
2) My new Target debit card, with chip. I used to love the 5% off deal, but now since I misplaced the new card (somewhere at home) and keep not calling to let them know, the whole Target experience is fraught with knowledge of my failure to do something completely normal (as in, not misplacing the card at all, or certainly calling right away), so I end up shopping at Target much less, and feeling the missing 5% discount when I do go.
Two objects I’ve found, with back story:
1) A little pink plastic elephant embedded in some dirt in a park. I think I worried that a child might have lost it, but then I picked it up so it wouldn’t be outside by itself, in case no one ever did come back to find it.
2) An end table that I saw in the end-of-the-year trash dump outside my dorm on graduation day. I was already in my cap and gown, but I walked it back in and up to my room. Decades later, we still have it and refer to it as “the Danish Modern.”
And here’s my poem:
The Danish Modern
A dead flower in a bowl of water,
behind a forsythia bush
as if in offering or apology,
bringing the bloom back to its source,
as if my mother’s pearls were to
go back to Asia, back into their oysters.
If that were possible, what an errand
it would be — a reality show sponsored by
Target, the camera following me as I
fruitlessly search one oyster bed
after another, eventually seeking
not the oysters that made the pearls,
but any oyster that knows anything,
is willing to talk. Pink elephants may be
good luck for searchers. It’s for the best,
then, that I picked this one up years ago.
I’m pretty good at picking, having once scored
a honey-colored end table from a trash pile,
a solid thing with some style to it, perfect for
holding a bowl of water with a dead flower in it.