Though having chosen a seemingly mundane subject, Dennis O’Driscoll’s (contemporary Irish poet), poem, “Friday,” takes off through a minutely detailed account of the drive home from the city to a rural home, “the weekend ours/like a gift voucher,” and transforms, as good poetry will do, a routine that most of us who work in some kind of office, cut off from the natural world, know only too well.
O’Driscoll’s drive becomes a record of noticing the magic that we always have access to no matter how much we may have shut it out as routinized background scenery. The daily routine of any work day, can and most often does, blunt, numb, and neutralize our senses. In O’Driscoll’s poem, the name of the day of the week (Friday) that he recorded an observation about, becomes a funnel though which we travel with him, feel the liberation as he does, of this “gift voucher” as he describes, so that by the time we are home with him, we feel the elevation he does, and instead of the usual end-of-week drain we so often feel when we stumble to our own Fridays, we’re rejuvenated, ready to notice seemingly ordinary details in the way branches bend over a road, ready to be fully alive again. In O’Driscoll’s poem, the simple passing by of familiar vegetation records his and his passengers’ transformation as the “poplars form a “guard of honor’ between which they ride, the “canopy of branches” spanning the road, form a “triumphal arch,” the leafy underpass through the familiar tunnel, transformed into a “decompression chamber,” and renewed, “filtered,” we, with O’Driscoll and his passengers, are on the “downward slope home,” “renewed, detoxified.” It’s a stunning poem, worth reading and can be found in his collection 1988, New and Selected Poems.
Inspired by this poem to take a fresh view of ordinary days of the week, a poem about Monday tumbled forth from my fingers, and later, a poem also about Friday. A friend with me at the time, wrote about Sundays and soon, we had a poem related to every day of the week. Even if the poem that emerges isn’t one you want to continue to work with, it’s a doorway into stretching away from the way we usually sense any day of the week ─ each day seeming to have its inbuilt pattern, its energies with which we vibrate sympathetically ─ or not. For this exercise, allow a particular day of the week to present itself to you, and write whatever emerges. For some of you, a prose free-write, allowing anything that comes to be recorded as it comes, works best. For others, a line that’s already come to you might be the stimulus to keep going. Above all, keep the flow going until you have the raw material you’ll continue to work with. Allow surprise.
And so….until next month, Anna S.