Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The story of a poem

Some while ago, I wrote a poem called "Change Room" -- a piece that was inspired by the women who attend the water-walking and water-running classes at my local pool. It started as a bunch of words that Liz Philips helped me shape into something resembling a poem, back when I was at Banff.

Last winter, I submitted the poem to Quills, a Canadian literary magazine. Yesterday, my letter carrier brought me a copy of the magazine. To my surprise, it contained my poem. But even more surprisingly, tucked into the first page was a cheque with my name on it. "Change Room" had won the magazine's First Prize.

Here's a picture of the fabulous prize.
I'll admit, it's not all that often I get to see a cheque (especially for a poem) with that many digits in it. Pretty sweet, eh?

Anyway, if you're still with me, here's the poem.

Change room

I have come to recognize
the shape of old incisions

learned to read the lines of scars
appendix, open-heart

the zigzag left on thighs
where metal hips go in

the long frown where a kidney
used to hang.

I understand the petalled scrolls
of stretch marks on breasts

indigo scribbles of varicose veins
meandering past a knee

the puckered line on an abdomen
where a doctor once reached in

pulled out the baby coiled inside
that child since grown to a man.

These women in the change room
sit down to tie their shoes

use clothes pegs to pull up their socks
have devised ingenious ways

of levering on their underwear,
outsmarting the reach of their arms.

They take balance from the strength of walls
lean into them, like lovers, with grace.

I do my best to follow the steps, mime
their cautious techniques, learn

from them, these subtle


Steve said...

Way to go Heidi, that's great news. It's a good poem. Steve

cat said...

Thanks for posting this lovely poem! And congratulations on the clammage - nice prize!

Janet said...

Congratulations Heidi! I love the poem too.

rox. said...

wowee zowee! does that work out to more than 21 cents an hour? sometimes a little payback comes our way. great news, great pome (another kind of radiant danse). glad these things can happen to frenz uv bill. bravo! bravissimo!

p.s. how's the skim boarding your way?

Kimmy Beach said...

woo hoo! heidi, i just HEART the way you get at our frailties. bravo