. . . a letting go, a blind falling . . . permission to breathe again . . . as if our whole lives depended on . . .
These phrases from Linda Pastan’s poem, “Interlude,” opened last week’s writing circle inside Vermont’s prison for women. The ten women around the table lifted pens, wrote without stopping for 20 minutes on yellow tablets, then shared their words — some with trepidation, some boldly, some with tenderness. After their words had been held and heard, we spoke back into the circle phrases that resonated with us. These ‘read-back’ lines became the material for the following ‘found’ poem, whose title is one of the lines:
I SIT ON THE EDGE
moral fibers now frayed
force my shoulders to drop
teetering between my two selves
twisted into shards
struggling to breathe
in the armor I construct for myself.
My heart is lonely;
intentions filled with grace
fly from the inside
waiting for the time we meet again.
Where did you go, where could you be?
one step closer to freedom
leaving hyper-vigilance behind;
open to life, trust
to say or don’t say.
I believe in Karma,
the strength to say ‘no’
the needle that will repair the frayed fibers.
The particular power of this exercise – creating something new from the collective of lines written individually – is twofold: each woman remembers herself and the others by re-hearing their words; and a wholly new creation with its own meaning and rhythm is born from their combined creative efforts. Hands down, this is the universal favorite part of each meeting – reading the previous week’s ‘found’ poem to close the circle.