Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “…write an elegy – a poem typically written in honor or memory of someone dead. But we’d like to challenge you to write an elegy that has a hopefulness to it.”
The concept of this poem came from the guilt that haunts me for spending so much time reading and writing in my study. I wrote the first draft of it to the tune of commuters rushing by my window one harried morning last winter. This poem is dedicated to Jean-François Boquet for nourishing the prisoners in my study – and for his kind understanding of the warden’s dilemma.
Elegy for the Prisoners in My Study
To get to my desk, I shuffle across parquet
made of pine trees who once swayed their days away
in faraway forests before they were stripped
naked, sliced up and slapped with varnish.
To sit at my desk, I plunk into a wicker chair
whose reeds once shilly-shallied in the breeze
somewhere balmy before they were ripped up and
water-boarded until they’d conform into appropriate shape.
To write on my desk, my glass desk, sand stretched
some sunny expanse tickled by wild waves before
it was kidnapped and cremated into transparent flatness
on which I put pencil to paper. Paper. Pencil. More trees…
I’ve taken many prisoners to create poetry.
May the trees, and reeds, and sand forgive me.
May I honor them each time I forge my way through
this forest to sit by the shore in the reeds and write.
by Elizabeth Boquet, April 2018