Drafting: “Myrrh”

Today is my last day off until March 5th, and I’m feeling a bit under the weather, but I decided last night I was still going to get up bright and early at 7:30 and do some writing.

Thankfully, some ideas have been spinning in my head for a little bit. I’m getting really attached to the idea of modernized myth poems. It’s made me really re-think my manuscript, Predator’s Tongue. When I was organizing it, I had a lot of trouble, because I had these more realistic–sometimes funny–poems I wanted to include that really didn’t have the same mythic or “dark farm” quality as several of what I consider to be my stronger poems. I ended up starting the manuscript with most of the dark farm or mythic poems and then selecting several transitional poems that were a little supernatural, but still had a lot of realism about them to bridge that gap between these very realistic poems and these very supernatural/mythic ones.

Now that I’m so interested in these mythic poems, it makes me really want to tear out the more realistic poems from the manuscript and replace them. My other idea is just to start a new manuscript, since I really don’t know how long this obsession will last. I wrote “dark farm” poems for a while there, and then I got interested in other things, so I don’t know how long I’ll continue to be pulled in by these topics.

My draft today started from a line from the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. It’s funny where I sometimes get my inspiration. My poem “Daughter” started out from a line I heard on Parks and Recreation as well. The one for this poem was “My father used more stick than carrot for discipline.” Last night while I was watching it, I was really struck by it and had to write it down. This morning, I started looking through some myths specific to father/child relationships and came upon the story of Myrrh.

Similar to Lot’s daughters in the bible, Myrrh falls in love with her father and tricks him into having sex with her. After discovering who she is, he pursues her, and, lo and behold, she is now also pregnant. After nine months, when she’s on the verge of going into labor, she asks the gods for help, and they turn her into a tree. She then gives birth, while she’s still a tree (don’t know how that worked out), to Adonis, the god of beauty and desire (as well as death and vegetation and renewal). The exudings of the myrrh tree are said to be her tears.

“All my youth, my father used more stick than carrot.
All this winter, I was drawn into his room.
Some nights, I held my mouth over his percussive breath.”

The poem is in three stanzas right now. The first sets up the daughter’s longing. The second is when she tricks her father, and the third when she runs away and is turned into a tree. I’m interested in adding more “tree” references and more about the father’s flute playing. I also want to develop some reason for her to be drawn into his room that sort of implies something supernatural is involved in this.

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