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Session 4

by NinaLara 

Posted: 04 June 2006
Word Count: 118
Related Works: Session 1 • Session 2 • Session 3 • 

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Today her face is clay,
the mouth stretching,
the eyes bruised folds,

Her voice moves
like wind over sea.

ĎArenít you sick of me
demanding your attention
in this embarrassing fashion?

Bleeding feelings

words are pools.

pick a life and stick to it,
any life, just as long as itís yours.

Iíve turned rejection into a canyon.
Grief is the river cutting it.

I dreamt your father made you a birthday cake and drizzled it with icing.
Candles flashed in orange sky and the sun was a hazelnut.
There was red wine and saffron cushions.

Iím up against a fence smelling the creosote.
Where is the gate
hooped with roses
and sunflowers
in the garden

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Comments by other Members

joanie at 20:57 on 04 June 2006  Report this post
Hi Nina. There are some really moving images here: 'the eyes bruised folds/unslept' 'Her voice moves/like wind over the sea'.

Iíve turned rejection into a canyon.
Grief is the river cutting it.
There is nowhere left to stand.
is making my mind spin as I get to grips with the concept! Excellent.

The 'dream' stanza is certainly very dream-like; I like the surreal images.

I hesitated at the final stanza because I just love the smell of creosote!

I enjoyed the read.


Elsie at 21:25 on 04 June 2006  Report this post
Nina - lots going on here that I like - especially the last stanza - I think I know that feeling. The penultimate stanza too - very vivid. I think I need to come back later.

James Graham at 19:48 on 05 June 2006  Report this post
Hi Nina - it's good to see your poem sequence moving on again. The last three sections of this one are very telling - in different ways.

Iíve turned rejection into a canyon.
Grief is the river cutting it

is a remarkably timeless image; it seems to go beyond the 21st century circumstances that give rise to these poems - the therapy situation and the traumatic experience that led to it. This metaphor seems to locate the speaker's grief alongside grief that has been felt by others in the past as well as now. These are two of your very best lines, I'm sure. Not quite so sure you need to add 'There is nowhere left to stand', which seems like an added explanation of the fearfulness of the canyon. For me the two lines carry all that weight of fearfulness, without the need to add anything.

As Joanie says, the dream images are strikingly surreal. There's something unnervingly irrational about this collection of objects, especially the flashing candles and hazelnut sun. The more ordinary cake, red wine and saffron cushions take on a weird aura because they're juxtaposed with the things in that middle line.

The last lines remind me, probably irrelevantly, of Alice peering through that little door into the garden which she cannot get through to. It's another timeless image, this time of the inaccessibility of happiness. The form at the end is striking too, the 'narrowing' of the verse form which suggests that after an outpouring (up to the long dream lines) the speaker is growing weary.

And I think this second half of the poem contrasts effectively with the less beautiful, more 'down to earth' therapy situation at the beginning - the painful indications of her suffering in the opening lines, her irritable (and something else besides, I'm not sure what) opening gambit to the therapist, and the prosaic, 'sensible' 'pick a life and stick to it...' which are words she puts into the therapist's mouth. (Is that how you meant them?).

After all this, the language of the second half seems to move into another dimension, beyond the therapy session. I know everything from 'Aren't you sick of me...' to the end is in quotation marks, and so we read all these things as part of what's said to the therapist - and I think that's as it should be, I don't think you need to change that. But as we read the second half, we sense the speaker moving toward insights that come only from herself. It's as if she closes her eyes, not caring whether the therapist or Sigmund Freud himself is present, and makes a huge effort to express and crystallise her despair.

Does that make sense to you?...that the second half is still in the session but rises above it...or am I reading too much into it?

A few minor points. Commas after each of the first four lines?

Today her face is clay,
the mouth stretching,
the eyes bruised folds,

It seems right to slow this down, to make us pause on each line and feel the painfulness in each detail.

And the spacing and punctuation in:

ĎArenít you sick of me
demanding your attention
in this embarrassing fashion?

Bleeding feelings.

Words are pools.


No complicated reasons for this - it just seems to pace the poem better.


NinaLara at 18:35 on 06 June 2006  Report this post
Dear Joanie, Elsie and James.

Your reading of this is exactly as I intended. James, I'm glad you feel that I can do without the nowhere left to stand line (I love cutting!). I was sloppy with the punctuation sort of on purpose ... I usually fiddle with things endlessly and I just wanted to leave this exactly as it came out for a while. I agree with the puctuation and spacing you suggest.


Most therapy on the NHS is offered in six week blocks so the poems are reaching their conclusion now. The client needs to be doing some of that 'looking beyond the session' that you are talking about James .... though exactly what she is going to come up with I'm not sure yet!

James Graham at 19:27 on 06 June 2006  Report this post
I'm glad this comment was helpful. Cutting can be painful...I find sometimes that I know perfectly well a line should be cut, but being very reluctant because it seems such a good line. Sometimes if you put the poem away and go back to it, the line in question suddenly doesn't seem pure gold any more and you can bin it without turning a hair. 'There is nowhere left to stand' is ok, but the two previous lines are so strong they make it unnecessary.


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