Poem-mas Day 4: Self Portrait

Poem-mas Day 4: Self Portrait

Okay. I think I can say with reasonable confidence that this poem isn’t depressing. It’s a matter of opinion as ever, but I think there’s very little in this one that could be construed as miserable in the way the others were. So I count that as a victory.

(Confused about what Poem-mas is? Read this post.)

That said, my choice of poem today comes with its own problems, namely that there isn’t a lot to explain about it. There’s no specific context to it. It’s called Self Portrait, it’s from Fleeting Ink, and that’s about all there is to say. The poem’s fairly self-explanatory.

fleeting ink cover final

However, for those who are interested, it was written on April 16th, 2013, while I was waiting at a train station for a friend. I just checked the theatre tickets on my wall and I can see that I was going to see Ubu Roi, a weird ‘threate of the absurd’ piece, with my A-Level French class.

I was waiting for KM, who always managed to be late for everything. So late that I almost always had contingency plans in place, such as for when we went to London ComicCon — I had to make sure our travel plans wouldn’t be disrupted! As someone who is always early to being early because of my anxiety, despite being disorganised and not a morning person at all, I find it stressful when people are late for things.

But anyway, I was waiting for KM. I’m pretty sure this was the occasion when she was proud of herself for being on time, only to go to the wrong train station. We did make it to the play, but it was close, and I was very stressed.

Before the stress kicked in, I was hanging around waiting and decided to write a poem to occupy myself. I wrote a lot of poems in 2013, and always had a notebook with me — this was one of three poems I wrote on the 16th, but probably the only one of those that’s any good.

As the title suggests, it’s a description of myself as I was in that moment. Reading it, I can remember exactly what I was wearing and where I was standing. I still own that dress, those boots, that bag — though the dress is too tight, and the boots need new soles. It’s funny. Nowadays I’d probably take a selfie, but in 2013 I wrote myself down instead.

Why did I choose to write this poem without any pronouns? I have no idea. It’s long enough ago that I don’t remember that. I guess it was motivated partly by the oddness of stepping outside of myself to write a description of something I couldn’t see from any perspective other than mine.

— — —

Self Portrait

A leather jacket and knee high boots
and then, incongruously, a flowered dress
and coloured bag decorated brightly
with sequins and ribbons and beads,
perched on a faded blue railing
in evening sunlight at the station.
Not waiting for a train – wrong side.
A notebook (black cover matching
the jacket and boots) and a reddish pen
clasped in one hand, scrawling.
Overbalanced, with one foot grounded
and the other crossed over, hanging;
leaning forward with hair swinging,
caught up by clips to leave eyes
free to stare intently at a page
half-covered in messy scribble.
Standing, limps to check clock
and glances at a phone, concerned
for the arrival of a companion
unexpectedly delayed arriving,
and then returns to contemplate
the unification of ink and page
as trains thunder past
and sun sets over the station
and lights the grey with gold
of dying day and night’s triumph.
A poem yet; closes the book
and returns to strange bag
and folds jacketed slender arms,
not for warmth but decision.
Waits.

— — —

There we go, I’m capable of writing slightly less miserable poems after all! And I’ll leave you with this picture of me: the clothes aren’t the same, the location certainly isn’t, but the pose is probably not dissimilar to how I looked when I was writing this poem. It’s from around the same time, too, during the Easter break of 2013, but from the other end of Britain (it was taken in Aberdeen).

writing on the beach in aberdeenI’ll be back tomorrow with Poem #5! As ever, all your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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