Yesterday’s poem came from two things I’ve been wanting to write a poem about for approximately 30 years; the brute physicality of the process of castrating bull calves,
and the backbreaking work of removing the compacted density of manure that builds up over a winter of adding layer after layer of straw bedding to a calf pen in a barn without a mechanized stable cleaner.
In the event, I didn’t manage to address either of those things as fully as the occasional consideration over the years of attempting the poems separately had me imagining I would. But I think the movement from conception to birth, for person or poem, is subject to variances both environmental and hereditary—in a poem’s case, its DNA might be said to be comprised of the twisted strands of style, voice, tone, and so on developed over a writer’s lifetime (and in the mature writer these will combine in an identifiable individuality analogous to DNA)—so I’m not truly surprised or disappointed at yesterday’s result. Instead I’m fascinated, as always, at what the mostly unconscious process of synthesis produced from what qualify as ancient memories for me.