I Wrote Her A Poem

by Chua Han Au

She asked me to write her a poem
I told her we can do it together
She persisted and declared that poetry was tough
What is poetry? She questioned with absolute innocence.
I explained that poetry is somewhat like nursery rhymes
She paused
as if giving herself time to recite and familiarise

(over the phone)
I need to write a poem which includes personification and rhymes.. and four stanzas!
Four stanzas!? I responded with utter dubiety.
Ya, actually, how do you personifi-tise something?
Personify you mean. (I chuckled harmlessly at her attempt with grammar.)
Okay first, you have to think of something you want to write about.
… (an indistinct sigh of lamentation was heard)
Have you got it?
I want to write about my pencil case!
Okay — so for poetry — you need to think about why you want to write, think about the message that you want to convey to your audience — I mean your peers and teacher — what do you want them to get at the end of your recital.
I want them to know the awesomeness of my pencil case! The awesome-ny-ness! (She pronounced with an intense juvenile excitement)
Actually, why don’t you just read a few poems from your Sylvia Plath book or the poems in your phone? It’s much easier right?
Sylvia Plath does not write about pens girl, and neither do I… (I laughed once again)
Oh, then how do you write poetry?
Sometimes, you need to be a little sad to write poetry — to have your emotions perturbed and then you’ll know you’re going to write. Emotions are your drivers and you simply go with the flow.
Wow, okay.
So… actually, a pencil case is a little hard to write about.
Why not we write a poem about pens since you need to include personification?
Okay. My pen! My awesome pen! But a happy poem! Not sad. (She stressed deliberately on her choice of tone of the poem)
Okay, so still that eh?
Yes! I want it to write endlessly, that the ink wouldn’t go away.
Okay, but four stanzas? That’s a lot! (I announced with a greater intensity than ere)
Yeah.. actually four stanzas is not a lot… like two lines per stanza...
Oh okay, two lines it’ll be then (I laughed at my ignorance assuming that all stanzas had more than a pair of lines)

The next day, she came over and we were supposed to work on the poem together.
Let’s see who can finish the poem first. (She looked at me competitively, determined of her success)
Set, go!

She completed and smiled with absolute pride as though glory had conferred her wings.
I am not done yet… (I confessed abashedly)

But I did eventually. In the end, I wrote her a poem — amounting to a total of 5 stanzas.

For its tone, I tried making it happy. I really did.

I lie tired with multiple friends
identity more commonly known as pens

be true to yourself others say
to break out of our cocoons we pray

but dreams vanish when we run dry
leaving us with no chance to try

and maybe that’s our destiny
but to fulfil the dreams of others is our duty

to write
and give words flight

While it was a race, I felt significantly hampered by cognition. I wanted to finish the poem as quick as possible but could not. Poetry should never be treated with frivolity and one has to reach to the rawest depths of our human mind in order to create poetry. Be cognisant of even the simplest of emotions. Observe them when you see someone attractive — do your muscles involuntarily get tense preceding the skip of a heartbeat? walk home alone and stay out a little longer — notice the pregnant moon and it forever thinking it’s monstrous, terrifying humans away from sight; or that the cries of fatigued canneries are never the key to breaking its cage, but a perpetuation of it’s imprisonment, for their voices are viewed as an indication of absolute strength.