Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Poetry Year: Entry #37

In which Your Humble Blogger describes what she sees in the women's bathroom at the train station in terms of a favorite story from childhood:

"Where the Unicorns Have Gone"

The women blustering toward
The tissue-clogged sinks are busy
With petite wrinkles that frustrate
Their concealer. They see blouses
That betray their bra straps; they see
Hairs sticking up, like flags of war.
They make practical adjustments.
But the quick women don't see that
The unicorns, holy creatures,
Are here in the public restroom,
Flickering outside the pale lights
And kicking at the mop water.
Undo these pearl lassos, they plead.
But the clock soon will call the bells
Of capture, so the women leave
With a glance. The women don't see
The unicorns. The women see
Everything in the flat mirror
Except their own eyes.

* * *

You know, based on the introduction I wrote for this post, I can understand how a reader would expect a totally different kind of poem from the one that's featured here. ;p

Prior to today, I hadn't looked at this one in a really long time. I like the basic idea of it, but I think I really need to work on clarifying what's going on. The inspiration behind it was the sight of women crowding in front of the bathroom mirror at the train station on their way to work or to job interviews, wherever their professional-looking attire suggested that they were headed. Of course, my opinions and predispositions crept deep into this one; I tend to readily assume that everyone who's out in a business suit is secretly unhappy. I imagine that they're like the unicorn in The Last Unicorn, trapped in a disguise that causes their heads to become filled with all sorts of trifling thought and leads them to forget who they are. I know that's not the case. But man, some of these women I see look so unhappy.

So if I revise this poem, I would at least make it clearer in the beginning that the women are on their way to work and clearer in the middle that the unicorns are trapped inside of them. I think there must be other changes that I can make, too, but I can't exactly figure out what they are yet.

Looking at my notebook, I see evidence that this poem gave me a tough time even when I was first writing it. I don't know if you can see it in the picture below -- the notebook is just pages and pages of eraser smudges at this point, so it's all a mess -- but whatever the first three lines of the poem originally were, they got erased and are gone forever. How romantic-sounding, no?


  1. Very cool! (I am about halfway through that book, by the way.)

  2. Nice! How's it going for you so far?

  3. Still wanting to dogear and highlight. It's going slow but that's my fault -- not the book's. I feel like savoring this one. Just pass the conjured Robin Hood parade, and getting to know Molly.

  4. :) Glad that you're taking that journey at a pace that's right for you and that you're enjoying it. I like the character of Molly Grue very much -- her belief in certain things, like unicorns, is so strong that it's heartbreaking.

  5. I'm still hung up on the spider at Mommy Fortuna's. Get me a hankie.