NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 29: A Complex Assignment

Today’s prompt at is a multistage affair. First, I’m supposed to find a favorite poem and pull out one word from it. I’ll take nightgowns (poetic license to remove the original hyphen) from “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” by Wallace Stevens:

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.


OK, next, I’m supposed to free-write for five minutes from the word I’ve selected, while not really using the poem:


Nighties, we called them when I would lie awake in bed, in the room that overlooked the roof of the garage, near the tree that held my tire swing, robins and a lilac sprig that my mother had cut for me, in water next to my bed, whatever little table I had next to my bed

nothing softer than nighties, I’ve written before about how I had at least one secondhand one, which was strangely intimate. Nightgowns and nightshirts, I don’t know if those are the same. I had a Garfield one. Once when we went camping, in the shared bathroom was a girl about my age with a Dukes of Hazzard nightgown or nightshirt. I looked down on her, in my mind, because I thought she must be from the country, which is kind of funny since we were camping

My mother used to ask for nightgowns as presents for Christmas or her birthday or Mother’s Day, but only certain kinds, neither too long nor too short, and a silky nylon with a flocked inside. I think I’m too old now to wear nightgowns, and too young at the same time, but I know they make the same kind my mother liked, and sometimes I’m tempted.

And finally, now I’m supposed to make a poem from that:

When I Was 10, We Went Camping

soft as a robin’s song,
which is to say, not soft at all
but sharp, if nightgowns could be sharp.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s