Monday, February 11, 2019

#068 Backstory of the Poem "Lunch on City Island, Early June" by Christine Potter

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***This is the sixty-eighth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#68 Backstory of the Poem
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  This poem is kind of atypical for me.  I often start poems with an observed image and free associate, watching as I write for words that sort of chime together without sounding too obvious about it.  
      This one was pretty straight autobiography.  I was driving home from City Island with my husband, and I felt it pulling at me.  I wrote it in one draft when I got home, tweaked it a little, and later realized that it was where I would start my newest book, Unforgetting.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail.  I was in my study (Left) at home.  I’m lucky.  I have a room of my own.  It has white walls, yellow woodwork, and it looks out on our not-terribly-well tended veggie garden on one side and woods past that.  The house I live in is very old, and the room I work in was a kitchen once.  

My husband Ken and I moved the kitchen back upstairs to where it was when the house was built in 1740 (I said it was old), and I took the basement room because it was quiet and separate from most of the house.

What month and year did you start writing this poem?  Yikes.  It was late May—the time colleges have graduations—and maybe five years ago.
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) 
I don’t keep rough drafts because I write on a computer.  But most of my poems go through at least six or seven revision sessions—sometimes many more.
Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us?   I don’t know.  I had the opening and the close of this poem before the middle stanzas firmed up, I know that. 
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? It’s a poem about caring for an elderly mother and being burdened by it but also being bound by love and family.  I wanted it to be strongly visual.  And I was also playing with the fact that one branch of my family has lived in NYC and in the Hudson Valley since Dutch times.   Hawthorne wrote about “the sensuous sympathy of dust for dust,” and I feel that often in places near where family members have or had lived.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?  The line about the hush of doctor’s offices, and rain coming.  That’s why the repeat on the end. It’s about mortality. 
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? It was in The Literary Bohemian:   And, of course, it’s the opening poem in my new book.

Anything you would like to add?  I am grateful for the chance to write about my poetry and share my process with your readers!  Anyone who wants a signed copy of the new poetry book should contact me through my blog and I can arrange for it.

Lunch on City Island, Early June

We sat outside. Noon leaked through rain a long way off,
grew quiet and then quieter as light can, even falling
on vinyl palm trees wired with light-up coconuts. Silver,

white, a splash of brown—the Sound was the color of gulls
circling it, and rippled with coming weather. Still wearing
a graduation gown that puffed around her like a black sail,

a tall young woman carried a plate piled with fried fish
to a table beside us. You bought me a too-full plastic glass
of white wine pale as tap water, which turned out to be

delicious, or at least made me notice how richly green
the trees were, how ancient and tangled with each other and
rooted here as long as my family. I drank and was content,

although not an hour ago, my mother had refused to see
her doctor, had narrowed her eyes at me and spat out
her pills, but looked cheerful if confused when we finally

left her house. So I told you about my friend Zack, who
opened the roof of his convertible on a huge blue day to
drive to his class reunion, when the brilliance or perhaps

weight of the sky overwhelmed him and he was frightened.
It was funny in the telling, but now I know the truth of such
burdens, their unexpected heft. Of course, he kept driving. 

What choice is there? A quick gust snatched my napkin,
which floated past my hands into the Sound and dissolved. 
Calamari and fried shrimp, clouds dull as chain-link fences.

So many apartment windows across the water, so many cars
lined up on the roads and bridges. Red and green lights.
The hush of doctors’offices. And rain coming, coming rain.

Christine Potter is a writer and poet who lives in NY’s Hudson River Valley. Her poetry is widely published in literary magazines: Rattle, The Literary Bohemian, Fugue, American Arts Quarterly, Autumn Sky Daily, The Peacock Journal, Eclectica, and The Anglican Theological Review
She has three collections of poems in print,
the new Unforgetting, and also Zero Degrees at First Light, and Sheltering in Place.  Christine is also the author of the young adult time traveling trilogy, The Bean Books, on Evernight Teen.


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
“Summer 1970, The University of Virginia Opens to Women in the Fall”
by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
“At School They Learn Nouns”
by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
“I Must Not Breathe”
by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

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