Friday, May 31, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

Untitled Prose Poem

By Marianne Ipenburg

One of my last chores of the day is to sweep the floor. This task requires me to lift and move the chairs surrounding the table bases to reach all the crumbs. It is a slow process. There are often customers still talking, eating or sipping coffees at this time so I have them as an audience as I make my rounds. Some try to ignore my actions while others watch intently. A few make comments that they’d like to take me home to sweep their floors. Others do not say a word but I know they are watching. As soon as I get close to them they lift their feet in the air.

There is a fascination to sweeping. It is such an age old practice. People have swept since humankind first had floors. I suppose someone in a cave once picked up a broken branch and swept with it. The cave looked a little cleaner; the cave dweller felt a twinge of satisfaction and in time sweeping became the norm. We’ve been sweeping ever since—swish, swish, pat, swish. (Spit and polish would come later and probably originated during the Bronze Age.) The fascination patrons have as I sweep could have roots in some distant primordial call born from broken tree branches and fussy cave dwellers. As I sweep I become Shaman.


Prose poetry is defined as prose which resembles poetry in its language and rhythmic quality. This one builds quietly, the rhythm and the music of the language becoming more pronounced in the second paragraph, so that to me it moves gradually from prose into poetry.

It is also a 'small stone' — a kind of reflective writing originated by author Satya Robyn, described as 'a moment of paying proper attention'.  I came across this piece this morning (my time, 15 hours ago now) on a facebook page where people post their small stones. Some write them in verse, some in prose. To be honest, I don't think Marianne intended this piece as a prose poem; it was I who perceived it that way and fell in love with it on the spot.

She does write verse poems too, and also pieces which are clearly prose. Then there are some others which, again, I would class as prose poetry. She's not a famous writer, but a blogger like the rest of us. You can find more of her writing at her blog, west coast dilettante. She's also an artist, and you can find pictures of her art work there too.

I also like her other blog, Talking to the Teapot, recently begun. [As she points out in a comment below, it's not hers exclusively; she shares this one with some other writers.] It celebrates ordinary, domestic objects — in this not unlike her reverence for sweeping, in the piece above. It's no wonder I like her stuff; I place a high value on the sacredness of the ordinary.

She lives in Canada, on Vancouver Island, where, she says, 
I like to paint, draw, take snapshots, create bad art (but I think I’m improving a little), snoop at other people’s artwork, and write. I am also a hoarder of second hand books and a pretty good baker.

I think she's a pretty good writer, too!


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

14 comments:

  1. I too love this Rosemary,such a good choice to highlight on here - I love the way that Marianne links the act of sweeping to humanity's roots through to present day (and beyond)linking us all in its movement.
    Well done Marianne Ipenburg!

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  2. Hi Rosemary. Thank you for all your lovely comments. I just want to point out that Talking to the Teapot is not my blog. It is shared between a group of writers and I haven't posted to it yet. I am glad you liked it however. They are very talented writers and I'm glad to be associated with them. Thank you for calling attention to it. Perhaps it will give us motivation to post to it more!

    Marianne Ipenburg

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    1. Ah, I misunderstood. Thanks for enlightening me. Have now made a small correction in my article above.

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  3. I too sweep--my vacuum too heavy these days--and muse on sweeping images large and small, Ms. Shaman. No one sees me "swept off my feet" and "swept away" anymore, I hope.

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  4. I have always loved to sweep, and I liked what you had to say about sweeping....thank you.

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  5. How fascinating this is, Rosemary. And nice to meet you Marianne. One of the first jobs I had as a child was to sweep the kitchen floor every night after we ate dinner. Nice memories. I enjoyed your writing, Marianne.

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  6. Love this! I've ALWAYS enjoyed sweeping. I can daydream, have conversations with myself, and see what I've accomplished all at once!

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  7. Marianne, how lovely to find such a talented neighbor. I shall be checking your site out for sure. I ADORE this prose-poem. Especially when you become a Shaman. Wonderful perspective! Where on Vancouver Island? I am a (reluctant) transplant from Tofino, at present in Port Alberni.

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    1. I'm in Nanaimo Sherry. Love Tofino.

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    2. Ha, just checked your blog and you mentioned the Cedar Farmers Market, so I suspected as much. Keep writing, girl. Your drawings are remarkable too. Lovely to be so talented in both genres!

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  8. p.s. Great find, Rosemary!!!!!! I had not come across Marianne yet, and am delighted to do so. Thank you so much!

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  9. Wonderful, mindful writing at it's best. Broom Meditation.

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  10. Carolyn Forche is another wonderful prose poetry poet. Thanks for introducing me to Marianne.I look forward to reading her work.

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  11. I adore this. Prose poetry speaks to me like no other. I can't wait to check out her blog.

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