Saturday, December 17, 2005

OLD HANDS LEARN NEW TRICK

Idle Hands
J.B. Rowell

An empty classroom is the loudest
kind of quiet. Chairs hold their legs
up on tables, waiting for the floors
to be swept. Walls with layers
of fabric and paper framed
by scalloped borders.

Click, clicking in the hush,
wood on wood, I am 33 and learning
how to knit for the first time,
taught by another teacher, taught
by the students I teach.
Learning with them.

Bamboo needles taming thick
rust yarn looping, soothed in therapy
of busy hands, shimmying up
the shaft of the needle toward the point
to drop off.

Too tight in my tense, new efforts,
I loosen to the rhythm of thinking fingers,
it will find you, this meditation,
this practical use for hands.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fun! Have vague memory of 33 being "old". Maybe we can sit awhile and meditate together with our needles and hook during our next visit. Until then, glad we can share the grounding comfort and peace the rhythm brings. Happy knitting. N

10:52 AM, December 17, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks N - okay 33 isn't "old" but it is pretty late for learning a new skill. :) I look forward to knitting together and learning more from you . . .

11:49 PM, December 17, 2005  
Blogger Rae Pater said...

Hi Julia,

I hope you don't mind my meddling, but I have a couple of little suggestions for this poem. It's very nice.

best
Rae

()add, []del

(In the) empty classroom [is the loudest
kind of quiet. C](c)hairs hold their legs
up on tables, waiting for the floors
to be swept. Walls (hold) layers
of fabric and paper framed
by scalloped borders. *show the silence of the classroom rather than telling how silent it is. Your description is enough, you don't need to say it as well.

Click, clicking in the hush,
wood on wood, I am 33 and learning
how to knit for the first time,
**taught by another teacher, taught
by the students I teach.
Learning with them.***maybe here you could just say 'the students I teach teaching me'? Even if, strictly speaking, another teacher taught you as well, this is a tighter way to say it.

Bamboo needles (loop) thick
rust yarn [looping], soothed in therapy
of busy hands, shimmying up
the shaft of the needle toward the point
to drop off.

Too tight in my (tension),*If you use 'tension' here, it conveys your feeling and your inexperience, and also uses the terminology of knitting, where tension of the wool is very important for and even result. (yes, I knit, or used to).
I loosen to the rhythm of thinking fingers,
it will find you, this meditation,
[this practical use] for hands.


so it comes out:



In the empty classroom
chairs hold their legs
up on tables, waiting
for the floors to be swept.
Walls hold layers
of fabric and paper framed
by scalloped borders.

Click, clicking in the hush,
wood on wood, I am 33
and learning how to knit
for the first time,
the students I teach teaching me.

Bamboo needles loop thick
rust yarn, soothed
in therapy of busy hands,
shimmying up the shaft
of the needle toward the point
to drop off.

Too tight in my tension,
I loosen to the rhythm
of thinking fingers,
it will find you,
this meditation for hands.

5:12 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks Rae, I'm glad you like it and that it is worth meddling with - feedback is always welcome! Especially when the poem is brand new like this one and I can't see it objectively yet. I agree with everything but have a hard time letting go of "An empty classroom is the loudest kind of quiet" eventhough I know it is telling instead of showing - I wonder if that is the title then? What do you think? I know Irene probably likes it because it is a LONG title. :) The only other change I'm resisting is getting rid of the "practical use" for hands. Do you still get that idea without it? I'll think about that one . . . as always, I have to sleep on changes, to see what the poem looks like in the light of the next day. Thanks again Rae - I really appreciate your time!
Julia

9:14 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger Rae Pater said...

The reason I suggested removing it is because it is so close to cliche. I've read 'loud silence' or similar so many times that it's a bit ho hum by now.
But if you really want it then of course you should keep it. It's your poem. My suggestions are just that, suggestions.
Only you can decide what's really important for you to keep.

10:45 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

You're right, it is cliche - thanks Rae.

12:00 PM, December 19, 2005  

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