• GIVE GRANDMA A KISS

    Date: 2015.07.30 | Category: Poetry, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    Note: maybe it’s the heat (blessing of summer), but I just noticed my last post (be patient, I procrastinate, I don’t post often) was about this same poem! This one, again, a slightly different version.

    It’s been an amazing summer! Beginning with participating in a class taught by Alison McGhee at Metro State! The class motivated me to get back to poetry. One of the poems I wrote about my grandson Ethan is an honorable mention in the Goodreads monthly poetry contest (this is the first time I’ve submitted anything-wow, what an honor). I haven’t written anything since the class, but as writers we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves, the writing will happen when we/or it is ready-but, sometimes we need to be among other writers to help make that happen.

    Give Grandma a Kiss
    for Ethan, my nonverbal, autistic grandson

    I always wear mauve lipstick, give
    Grandma a kiss—

    He leans in, all seven years of him, knowing
    more than I know after
    67 years of thousands of kisses.

    He leans in, without hesitation. I
    mark his brown forehead with a temporary
    tattoo. My kiss his kiss. Like no kiss
    a man has given me. Words

    not necessary language. His way
    of love, spontaneous, silent

    a heart organic, knowing what it is
    to hold breath a millisecond; a mime
    not needing to be understood.

    But Grandma wants to see underneath
    the innocence, to reach what she lost
    or never experienced.

    Later, my daughter-in-law, the nurse,
    questions what she thinks is a scratch;
    how has he hurt himself this time?

    The hurt is mine; the gift unwrapped,
    visible, transparent.

    https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17029183-please-vote-for-the-august-2015-goodreads-newsletter-finalists

  • 10 minute writing assignment: revised twice

    Date: 2015.06.11 | Category: Assignments | Response: 0

    I enjoy re-visioning (not editing). It’s fascinating to see where a poem will lead you, if you let it. It helps to play with words, with sounds, with punctuation: change happens. The following poem changed meaning from the draft to the second revision: suddenly the grandmother was no longer thinking about kisses from former lovers, but from her mother-did her mother kiss her, did she kiss her mother-these thoughts triggered by the way her grandson, who has autism, kisses her by not physically kissing her, but by her kissing him.

    This poem is far from completion.

    Any comments about your process of revision welcomed.

    Give Grandma a Kiss
    for Ethan

    I always wear mauve lipstick, give
    Grandma a kiss

    he leans in, all 2 1/2 years of him,
    knowing more than I know
    after 67 years not knowing
    if my mother kissed me.

    He leans in without hesitation,
    silent, vulnerable.
    I mark his tender forehead with a temporary
    tattoo: my kiss his kiss. Like no kiss
    I can remember.

    give grandma a kiss

    His heart organic, knowing what it is
    to hold breath a millisecond; a mime
    needing to be understood.

    give grandma a kiss

    Grandma wants to see underneath
    his innocence, to reach what she lost;
    she was a girl afraid to speak.

    give grandma a kiss

    Later, my daughter-in-law, the nurse,
    questions what she thinks is a scratch
    on his forehead;
    how has he hurt himself this time?

    The hurt is mine. The gift: unwrapped,
    visible, transparent.

    ©Sherry Lee
    June 11, 2015
    Second revision

    Give Grandma a Kiss
    for Ethan

    I always wear mauve lipstick, give
    Grandma a kiss—

    He leans in, all seven years of him, knowing
    more than I know
    after 67 years, and thousands of kisses.

    He leans in, without hesitation, vulnerable.
    I mark his tender forehead with a temporary
    tattoo. My kiss his kiss. Like no kiss
    a man has given me. Words
    not necessary language. His way
    of love, spontaneous, silent

    give grandma a kiss

    a heart organic, knowing what it is
    to hold breath a millisecond; a mime
    needing to be understood.

    give grandma a kiss

    Grandma wants to see underneath
    the innocence, to reach what she lost
    or never experienced.

    give grandma a kiss

    Later, my daughter-in-law, the nurse,
    questions what she thinks is a scratch;
    how has he hurt himself this time?

    The hurt is mine; the gift unwrapped,
    visible, transparent.

    ©Sherry Lee
    May 25, 2015
    First revision

    The Kiss, More Than a Kiss

    I always wear mauve lipstick, give
    Grandma a kiss
    He leans in, all seven years of him, knowing
    more than I know after
    67 years of thousands of kisses.
    He leans in, without hesitation. I
    mark his brown forehead with a temporary
    tattoo. My kiss his kiss. Like no kiss
    a man has given me. Words not
    necessary language. His way
    of love, spontaneous, silent

    a heart organic, knowing what it is
    to hold breath a millisecond; a mime
    not needing to be understood.

    But Grandma wants to see underneath
    the innocence, to reach what she lost
    or never experienced.

    Later, my daughter-in-law, the nurse,
    questions what she thinks is a scratch;
    how has he hurt himself this time?

    The hurt is mine; the gift unwrapped,
    visible, transparent.

    ©Sherry Lee
    May 19, 2015
    Draft

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE photo by Charissa Uemura

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