Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pantoum for One Who Writes in Margins

You fill margins with India ink comments,
underline key verses and words
connect scripture with threads,
accept each word, every phrase—as true

Underlining key verses and words
you interpret the world
accepting each word, every phrase—as true,
praying to find your path

You interpret your world,
seek answers in ancient stories,
pray to find your path,
strum the guitar and sing “Kumbaya my Lord”

You say, seek answers in ancient stories
find what you ask for in these pages
Strum my guitar and sing, “There is a Balm In Gilead”
Start at the beginning and read to the end

Find what you ask for in these pages,
But the world is different, I say
Start at the beginning and read to the end,
Everything is here

But the world changes, I say
I study scripture, write in the margins
Everything is here, you say
As metaphor, I say

I study scripture, write in the margins
finding roots, weaving stories
as metaphors, I say
That's a first step, you say

Finding roots, weaving stories,
connecting scripture with threads
That's a first step, you say
We fill margins with India ink comments

Linda Watskin ©2010


  1. OK, you're forgiven for not getting angry! So many stories can be found in the margins and between the lines.

  2. A quite lovely, and very thought-out piece.

  3. Heh -- You may have not felt or seen anger in this pantoum, Linda, but I felt a surge of anger when I read it. Your poem brings some memories to mind (and some current personal situations) that bring up that emotion for me. And, I'm sad that the difference between "literal" and "literacy" can cause a rift even between family members. Like the dash of "India ink," as well as "Find what you ask for in these pages" -- I think no matter how one finds it, the way it is found could be a moot point rather than a bone of contention.

    I think I need to stop reading angry pantoums this hackles are bristling, even at a poem that the poet claims is benign.

  4. I suspect any time we write "you" there's a 50/50 chance of anger in the background. could be wrong.
    the threads are nice. I see red lines to the marginal notes.

  5. Margin writing in India Ink is probably subject to change, too! This is a delightfully provocative read.

  6. Truly so much is written 'in the margins.' So true of much of life.

  7. Everything is here as metaphor. I think you are SOOOOO right with this. A very thought-provoking pantoum!

    Here's mine:

  8. The marvel of reading is that we all read our own story into poem or piece of fiction.I think I'll change the title to Pantoum for a Friend Who Writes in the Margins.

    This is not an angry poem—the last line indicates that two of us are writing in the margins.

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

  9. This is a gorgeous pantoum. I don't feel any anger in your exploration - just wonder! I agree that it is very thought provoking, so that emotion will be felt by the beholder. I am thinking about the radical deconstructionism within the radical deconstrunction of this. We all find our meanings, and I am writing in the margins with trade-mark "jade green" ink. (No, I'm not really envious of this pantoum. You know that I just love jade green.) I'm not seeing red either. I enjoyed it so much, I plan to read it again!

  10. Nan,
    Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate your reading.


  11. I love your pantoum -- it brought a smile to my face with images of two friends having a lively discussion.

  12. This is a beautiful pantoum. I love any poem about the magic stories can unravel. Gets us to the roots of us. I'm with Derrick....completely forgiven for not getting angry. This is super!

  13. Oh, I love the conversations in this pantoum -- so many nuanced meanings to find.

    "Everything is here, you say/ As metaphor, I say" is my personal favorite lines, but they are all wonderful. And the beauty of the pantoum is that syntax and adjacency changes everything -- just like with real life. :-)

  14. Yes the scriptures are a good topic for a robust discussion and a valuable poetic reference. Literally or metaphorically, that is the age old question.Me,I believe in world cup soccer. If someone made me sing 'Kumbaya' I could write an angry pantoum about that:)

  15. it is good to write anywhere...but i like the writing in margins...especially so the writing of others..

  16. I know the tension described in this pantoum very well. There's much to be said in those margins.


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