Monday, April 5, 2010

Writing Prompt: Botanical Gardens


Nature offers visual mysteries that can easily be turned into writing prompts. Today’s writing prompt in celebration of National Poetry Month: Meditate on something in nature. Look closely and describe it according to your five senses. Then, animate it. Bring it to life with strong action verbs.

To help get you started, I posted pictures at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, MI. I don’t know the name of the first plant, but the following trees are bonsai and sausage. After one quick glance, you know they could easily live in a poem just based on their general strangeness. The current exhibit, The Healing Garden: Savor Nature’s Restorative Powers, offers activities and descriptions that will help prompt your writing.

For today’s writing prompt, visit a formal garden, look at pictures online, take a walk or just look out your window. The goal is to pause and think for a few minutes before writing.

Thinking of nature, a recent poem draft I wrote combines nature, from a more fearful perspective following Friday's writing prompt using words from another field of study.This poem uses words from my husband’s study of political networks. Here are the words I used: neighborhood, geodesic distance, node, connections, betweeness (this is my favorite), tie, edge, actor, relationships.


Interdisciplinary Networks of Ants

I’m connected to a family,

or maybe a neighborhood, of ants.



They taunt my sleep by pulling all nighters in the bathroom,

which must have been a mistake.

They map the ground, find the mother lode: the kitchen.

Crumbs under the microwave and who knows what in the coffee maker

travel the geodesic distance to their miniature ant homes.



Their black skeletons nodes connect me to their leader.

Take me to your leader,

I plead as they scuttle to a dark hiding place between the cracks in the wall.



The queen commands this takeover

and so the connections deepen. She lowers our betweeness

with every influx.



Finally, I hire someone to do the job I am unwilling to do.



The exterminator breaks some of my ties with the ants.

Post-spray, they die mid-fight, mid-walk, under my shoe.

Why won’t they collect their dead?

I leave one in a spider’s web as a warning.



The winged ones appear later, post attack.

I tell them, There’s no food under the covers, on the curtain or in my purse.



Yesterday, my husband killed their queen.

Three times as large, but just as slow as the others,

she hovered on the wall behind the microwave,

not having been told I wiped it down.



I want to slice the edge between each actor.

These connections must be severed by quick chemicals.

Oh, exterminator, can’t you rearrange our relationships?

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