Days 3 & 4: “Water Drop Lake,” “The First Lupine”

Greetings readers:

I’m finally getting to blogging again! Although… I only took a 2-day hiatus during which time I got marginally caught up on grading while doing a bit of light shopping (new boots, running shoes, winter socks, etc.). Self-care aside (the stuff of another post, I’m sure), the weekend was only slightly productive for me. Bingeing Crunchyroll and lesson planning leave very little room for creative output. Fortunately, I managed to submit these two poems, which you can find here on the Tupelo 30/30 blog. Don’t be alarmed if a third one shows up by the time you see this post. The submitting to publishing process is a slightly delayed one. Fair warning, you will have to scroll down to find them. There’s no way to create a jump link to an individual poem. But hey, that gives you the excuse to check out some of the work of my fabulous cohort, Kenneth West, Christiana Baik, David Oates, Tish Lester, Janel Spencer, Garrett Bryant, and Arthur Kayzakian. And if you like what they write, please consider donating to Tupelo Press (my fundraiser page is here).

Now, onwards to these poems!

Day 3, “Water Drop Lake,” is adapted from an experimental prose sequence based on Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons.” The sequence, which I wrote this past summer using a prompt supplied by the lovely poet Dana Levin, presents concrete objects with a typically abstract and personally subjective interpretations (or definitions) of said objects. I revisited this “Button” for Day 3 and rewrote it into a lyric landscape, of sorts.

Water Drop Lake (in Chinese, Dishui Lake 滴水湖) is the largest manmade fresh water lake in China, said to resemble an enormous water drop that fell from the sky. I visited this lake back in June while traveling through Shanghai. One of the attractions on an island of the lake (a rural-like water park with windmills, pinwheel-trellised archways, and food and beer stalls) was a large aquarium housing numerous small black penguins. The freestanding outdoor aquarium resembled a green-glass prison at one corner of the park, overlooking the lake.

I wanted to transmit the experience of entering the park and arriving at the aquarium; thus, lines in the poem seem erratically long or short, but really to match the rhythm and a visual manifestation of the journey through this park:

There, black jade laps the long lotus lip a city bends
to meet
the bridge (pinwheels rasping plastic incantations) to the island–

I dare say the word and image choices reflect my memory of the park, which is more imaginative than accurate.

The Day 4 poem is based off a poem milling about my head for sometime. I once watched an interactive slideshow of the flora that grew in the wake of the Mt St Helens eruption in 1980. The first flower recorded to have returned was the prairie lupine (Lupinus lepidus) which was discovered on the Pumice Plain, in June 1982. Although other plant species had been recorded emerging from the ashes, the lupine was the first flower on the plain. I was struck by Nature’s resilience and the promise of inevitable regrowth (the lupine was observed to have a ring of seeds already wrapped round its base).

My feelings about this promise are best exempflied by the second stanza of “The First Lupine”: “Little Abraham, promised an offspring / purples the pumice plains.” The first lines “Desire bends a leaf to light– / from the starved surface of the moon” came to me over a year ago. I’m pleased the poem found its way into being.

The origins of poems have always intrigued me. Do they intrigue you?

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