Draft Process: Resurrected as a Refugee

40º ~ a dipping down of temperatures into the 40s for the next few days, nearly a dead calm, must stare hard to find a hint of breeze in the leaves (leaves on bushes only, trees winter-bare as should be the case), graygraygraygraygraygraygraygray

18th c. apparatus for reviving the apparently dead! Click for link.

A strange thing happened on the way to the draft this morning, dear reader.  I did my self-reminder last night and then again after the alarm went off and I snuggled back under the covers for 10-more-minutes-please.  I confess, I had a hard time clearing my brain for poetry.  There’s been a lot of intensity at work lately surrounding a large project.  Problem-solver that I am, my monkey mind kept wanting to go back to that knotty subject and try to find a way to please everyone and still be realistic (tilting at windmills, anyone?).  But, this is not the strange thing to which I refer.

As I rested in the aftermath of the alarm and focused my energies on my sickly speaker, I knew I wanted to chart that time when her disease seems to be responding to treatment but before there is a definite sense of “cure” or at least “management.”  (The quotes are for the way health care professionals use those words.)  This is a time of hope but also of disbelief and fear.  At the same time, the donor cells keep coming back into the conversation, and so I came up with the line “the donor cells infiltrate my dreams.”  I’m loving exploring the speaker’s connection to the anonymous source of her donor blood / cells and how she feels changed by this donation/transfusion/transplant not only in body but also in personality.  So, I started thinking about how the speaker might have unfamiliar dreams, the dreams of the donor.

And here’s the strange thing that happened on the way to the draft.  After going through my morning routine, I sat down with my journal turned to the page where I’d scribbled the above line after getting out of bed.  But, for some reason, I didn’t start the draft with that line.  Why?  I have no idea.  Normally, I would re-write the line a bit more neatly and see what happened from there.  Instead, I got sidetracked with the idea of the sense of healing and started the draft this way.

Monitor, needle, and chart,
each new diagnostic hints
that I am healing, …

I ended up drafting a total of eight tercets and only got back to the line about the dreams in the seventh tercet, and then it became “They infiltrate / my sleep.” Amazingly, this led me to a surprise ending that I love (of course, I usually experience a rush of love right after drafting).

So, here’s to letting go of the reins a bit and listening to the speaker and the poem and “learn[ing] by going where I have to go.” (Roethke)

Turning to the title, I still have Blood Dazzler on the desk after Patricia Smith’s reading Monday night.  By the way, she mentioned that as she drafts, she reads each line aloud and lets the sound help craft the next line.  While I don’t go line-by-line, I do read aloud, a lot, in the process, once I have a critical mass on the page/screen.  I highly recommend it.

In any case, I flipped open Blood Dazzler, and after only one false start, I hit upon the title of the draft, a line from “Golden Rule Days”: “and was resurrected as a refugee.”  No real tweaking required, all I did was trim off the first two words and voila.

Posted by Sandy Longhorn


Sounds like you had a great drafting experience, and I felt "a rush of love" reading it! Also, I identify with "try to find a way to please everyone and still be realistic…"

Sandy Longhorn

Yay for the "rush of love" for words.

As for that pleasing / realistic conundrum, is that the Midwest in us, perhaps?