In my current class we read a book or two each week and have a writing assignment to respond in some way. The freedom in how to respond is pretty absolute. Our instructor is a poet who graduated from the Writers' Workshop (the top creative writing program in the world), and I think she's pretty amazing.
As we were discussing one of our assigned books, it was clear that Margaret (the instructor) had loved it, but none of the students had. We found it inaccessible, while Margaret loved it for its poetry-like ambiguity. I said I wished I could learn to appreciate poetry that way, and she took a few minutes to explain her views on the subject. She said that writing poetry is an amazing experience because you can take a particular feeling from some experience and then express it in a form that has no reference whatsoever to the original experience. I said, but how will people know? And she said it didn't matter. Good poetry speaks to people different ways, but is widely found to be substantive in one interpretation or another. So, I tried my hand at it this week, and this was my first poem.
The master strode by; said not a word.
With calculated bruskness, the almond blossoms died—amputed with oiled steel.
Why that branch?
The wires coil from hand to tree. Tissue bends to will,
Soil vibrates angrily; sodden with nutrients and drenched in airy loam, he spills bits on the floor through slats.
I heard no crack. Besides, the drains could not bless my sloshing fear.
Surely not. So constrained. So miserable.
He joins me sitting oblique to the tree. The spinning table shows what he calls
Constrain. The small branches reach higher, the master bends the low branches lower.
They will surely crack.
How can he know the limits?
I had seen tissue split
The room was warm—not like my cold shed.
Sun moved. Breeze stirred.
Master immovable in his consideration, changed shadows.