The fifth piece of homework for the Andy Jackson course. The prompt for this week, greatly summarised, is to have a conversation with another writer, by alternating lines written by that writer with lines of your own in response. I took lines from “Figuring” by Maria Popova and, much to my surprise, came up with a poem that is sort of about Virginia Woolf.
The Stones in Virginia Woolf’s Coat Pockets
All of it, the rings of Saturn and my father’s wedding band
are beyond my figuring. If I had
Einstein’s brain bathing in a jar of formaldehyde
might I dissect the circuitry that would cause
A certain forearm I love
to one day author its own destruction?
One autumn morning as I read a dead poet’s letter
I saw that too much love can be destructive.
Are the imaginations of women less vivid than of men?
Are the dreams of women less portentous?
Every stone with which Virginia Woolf filled her coat pockets
was lovingly chosen for heft and effect.
Where does it live, that place of permission
to choose a life less ordinary?
Does genius suffice for happiness, does distinction, does love?
None of these inoculate against suffering.
There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives
but few beautiful ways to end one.
© Mike Hopkins 2019
Italicised lines from “Figuring” by Maria Popova 2019