Friday, January 11, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: BED

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Kat (who's gotten into Insta-poetry lately!) at Kathryn Apel for Roundup.

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann. I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

Here are January's prompts: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

For 2 1/2 years I lived with my family of origin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where my father worked as the administrator of King Faisal's Specialist Hospital. (I'm told his photograph still hangs on the wall!) That time impacted me in many, many wonderful ways. But not all of it was wonderful...

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Once in the land
of red sand and goats

a girl sat stranded on a ship
in the center of a purple room

floor an ocean of roaches
swelling, cresting, roiling

her four-year-old heart
pitching, heaving

breath hitching –
need to pee need to pee need to pee

how much longer 
before she learns to swim?

- Irene Latham


  1. Wow, so very vivid. I am right there on that bed in that room.

  2. Oh, my! The alarm is setting off in my own brain. Young children cannot always be expected to naviagate alone, but sometimes adults think they should. The question to end it is like a scream to me, Irene. When? When?

  3. An ocean of roaches!!! What a memory. xo

  4. Oooo,this makes my tear up, Irene. Connects to so many current events and photos I've seen...

  5. Once again Latham Power is represented through this poem. Evocative, heartfelt, detailed, and true.

  6. Powerful poem and lead in writing Irene, would love hearing your thoughts around this timely piece. The background bed image works well with the writing.

  7. I confess to shuddering... could even hear/dread the crunch of roaches underfoot. All the best with your project, Irene!

  8. oh, my about urgency! I loved your apron response so much this week I did a search for "apron" on twitter and found this fantastic old photo of four Edwardian maids. They are stone faced...or, are they? Each is in a white, starched, lace apron. Here's what came out of the photo into my fingers:

    There is a veil
    that comes with pulling
    an apron over one’s head.

    vulnerable to
    slings and arrows
    of a higher caste

    Do not be deceived
    by carefully ironed mouths
    who know infinitesimal
    degrees of difference
    between rich
    gold digger
    and class

    1. Oh wow, Linda, thank you for sharing this! Those carefully ironed mouths...

  9. Yikes! Not just one or two, but an ocean of them! UGH.

  10. Wow, Irene! You've captured such a rich, haunting image in this powerful poem. I can't wait to see where your journey takes you and am going to make a note to check out "The Butterfly Hours".

  11. Such a visceral memory - beautifully captured, Irene. And thanks for recommending this book, I am in need of it.

  12. Irene, it's been ages since I visited Live Your Poem (all gussied up a la Agnes!) and for that I apologize--you have been a faithful commenter on my blog, and besides returning the favor I should be here for all the breadth and depth of your posts. Oh my goodness so much going on! I too have been memoiring in earnest since this time last year, and funnily enough, even without the help of Patty Dan I have poetry+prose documents with titles like MOCCASINS;BOOTS and INSULATION;FUEL. I will be getting my hands on this book and I'll try to join you where it makes sense. And--I actually submitted a piece to an online memoirs-of-childhood journal that is also about pee. Your Bed poem is a wallop of anguish and landscape.




Your thoughts?