This week, our prompt is about things you wish you had time for (past and present). Think in terms of things for which you didn’t or couldn’t make time or things you just can’t fit into your schedule right now.
The “inspiration poem” for this prompt is “Something I’ve Not Done” by former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S Merwin. Read the poem a few times and reflect on what it “says” to you. How do you relate to the poem? What’s something you’ve not done that “follows you?” Notice how Merwin’s poem begins with a slightly lighter tone and then becomes “heavier” at the end.
Following last week’s prompt on epigraphs, when you feel ready to begin your poem, use Merwin’s first two lines as an epigraph to get you started: “Something I’ve not done / is following me …” But don’t rewrite Merwin’s poem. Be sure to move away from the inspiration poem in ways that are unique to your own style and content.
Remember that the poem you write this week won’t be about things you have done but, rather, about things you haven’t done. Do you have regrets about a specific something for which you didn’t or couldn’t make time? A relationship that needed more time? A chance that needed time you didn’t or couldn’t spend on it? A kindness that you didn’t make time to extend? An opportunity that you didn’t have time to pursue? A place there wasn’t time to visit? Any of these might provide the content of your poem.
Notice that Merwin doesn’t name the thing not done. You may want to try that in your poem or you may want to go in the opposite direction and tell exactly what you didn’t do. After writing a draft or two, think about what your poem suggests about regrets. How is the thing not done the subject of your poem; and how is the way you feel about not doing it the “second subject?”
Something I’ve Not Done
By W.S. Merwin
Something I’ve not done
is following me
I haven’t done it again and again
so it has many footsteps
Like a drumstick that’s grown old and never been used
In late afternoon I hear it come close
at times it climbs out of a sea
onto my shoulders
and I shrug it off
losing one more chance
it’s drunk up part of my breath for the day
and knows which way
and already it’s not done there
But once more I say I’ll lay hands on it
and add its footsteps to my heart
and its story to my regrets
and its silence to my compass