Poetry Speaks

Poetry Speaks

A few months ago, I listened to Poetry Speaks, a book with great poets reading their own works and accompanying text. While reading along with the poets, I noticed most of the time they spoke words that were different from the published version of the poem. The more I write, the more I’ve come to understand why that is. Perhaps there are some writers/artists that can create and walk away from the product. Not me, nearly every time I review a poem, I change some word.

Most weeks I submit poems for my writing group to critique. Every time it’s pleasure and pain. They are wonderful, bright writers and are always kind with their criticism. They never fail to zing me on a poem that I knew wasn’t good enough — even I wasn’t happy with — like they did last night for my poem, The Idea of Home. 

Another of the poems they reviewed last night is posted earlier on this blog under “What happened to the dress?” I weigh all their input. Some recommendations I use; some recommendations I just shrug off. Here is the latest version of that poem, new title (thank you, Susan), and all.



“I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota.”

Julia’s Choice by Cathy Lamb


The dress hung there

more than a week before anyone noticed it.

Barbara saw the flap of white, pulled a U-ey

and went back to look.

Was it a ghost, a parachute, or what? 

she had to know for sure

and seeing it was a wedding dress

what the heck?

she dropped to her butt

awed amazed

at the audacity the courage – no, the chutzpah,

it took to strip this dress off

toss it into a tree into the woods

and let Mother Nature take over from there.

So she picked some tiger lilies from the ditch

placed them beneath the dress

and took a picture.


That night when she got to her sister’s over in Kildeer

she told her about the dress in the woods

waving in the wind

showed her the picture

the dress still sparkly with seed pearls and beads.

And they talked about the woman who put it there

where she ended up

where they wanted her to end up.

Barbara said, “Let’s go put something there, too.”

but her sister said,

“No… I think that’s something a woman’s got to do by herself.”

And set her mouth.


A few days later Barbara drove to the dress

there was a blue baby sweater

stuck on the end of a branch.

Her sister called that night

to say she’d kicked Travis out

put all his 28 years old

college wasn’t right for me, Mom

can’t find a job

video game playing stuff

at the end of the driveway.


Friday, Barbara found a black garter belt

a bunch of black stockings

tied to another tree

a pair of stilettos planted

deep in the detritus.


The next Tuesday, there was an office chair in the woods

lumbar support propped against a sassafras.

You could still see the wheel tracks

where someone dragged it in from the ditch.

Saturday there was a padded bra

flung way up in the tree above the dress.

Sunday there was a pink ballerina jewelry box with a

stick tepee built over it.


Thursday there was a pile of fresh dirt.

When Barbara dug into it with a stick

she found pictures all torn to pieces.

She covered them back up and

picked some purple loosestrife to lay there.


It goes on like this

some weeks there’s a lot

some weeks nothing

but it hasn’t stopped

the flowers, clothes, things

that joined the wedding dress

left like the crutches at Lourdes.


©Copyright 2008 Pat Edwards