Reflections/poem biography for Against the Vacuum

Against the vacuum

“We leave the shape of our handprints
dark in their cloistered whiteness,”

This poem came directly from diabetes – though I hope that’s not evident from the words – as it was drafted in my car after a low blood sugar. I’d just finished a swim and my blood sugar levels weren’t high enough for me to drive. While I sat in the car, waiting for my blood sugar to rise, I noticed how messy it was. But, in not vacuuming the car, it meant that traces of past events and people travelled with me – a strangely comforting thought.

Vacuum in the poem title is also about the void or feeling of emptiness that I sometimes have. It can be good for me to remember the places I have been, the people I have known, the experiences I’ve had – they are part of being alive, and they form the person I have become.

Electric Questions - lit version smaller

Discussion Point

How easy or hard is this poem to visualise? Do these literal visual details help to anchor the potentially more abstract idea in the last line?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Look closely at the movements involved with a household chore. Notice the tools and appliances used. What do they resemble? What might be realised or discovered while working? What stereotypes are associated with household jobs? What lengths would you/a character go to in order to avoid doing the cleaning? Is there a humorous poem or a dark story hiding in the housework/lack of housework?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.