“Advice to a Writer Imagining Conception and Birth” by Colette Inez

Colette Inez


Look for a tree stump in the woods. Compare it to love,
examine the particulars, how your mother mounted
your father on Labor Day in a bungalow, Liberty, New York.

Describe a snowfall before your parents met. Take your time.
Leave out myth and literature. Relate it to life in an American
town, one with a rotating cocktail lounge.

Now imagine yourself as a parchment worm
wedged into a crevice to avoid attack. Liken your fear
to a clamp. How does it resemble the opal clam

from New South Wales? Speak up. Check it out.
Write a poem of departure in which you use the color blue,
a hue like the glow of fish cast ashore by a stormy sea.

Your parents are leaving town. They’ve rented a bungalow
in Liberty, New York. You’re not around to say: after dark,
exact change. You’re not even a tiny moonlet in a microscope,

a bluet in the woods. Contrast your nothingness to words
that start with “k”: killjoy, kisscurl, kelp. Are these words
comical in any special way? Say how you feel about kale.

Will you grow to leave it on your plate?
Your parents sit in a trance. They have just made love
and are counting snowflakes: uno, dos, tres …

Are they from Bogota, Colombia, and in New York on
a whim? You are about to divide. Say something about the
intricate coil of DNA. Double helix. Double Dutch. Jump in.

Make the leap. Now you’re a nation newly emerged.
Dispense with history, the transitory passions of people’s wants.
Words are dropping fast.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2005


Colette Inez: “A poem is born right here, somewhere in my heart, in my blood vessels, in my gut. It comes to the brain much later. I have to feel them actually pulsing in my body, and then when they get shaped, when the brain, the controller, the pilot, whoever one’s metaphor, however this metaphor can extend, takes over. I like to think that my brain is the lesser part of my poems and that my heart, in the best of my poems, is the one that rules.” (web)

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