I had run across poems by Sally Rosen Kindred online in the past – the wonderful poem “My Son Asks” in Linebreak has long been a favorite – but when I first saw her series of poems inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in diode, I was hooked. These poems are now a brilliant chapbook from Hyacinth Girl Press (reviewed here in an earlier post). For today’s post, I give you one of my favorite poems in the collection.
Tinker Bell Thinks About What She Wants
To this Tink replied in these words, ‘you silly ass,’ and disappeared into the bathroom. “She is quite a common fairy,” Peter explained apologetically, “she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the pots and kettles.” —J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy
Tink. Tink. Makes me sick, the lick
of their soft calls, this flighty work:
dust won’t take the dents
from these pots, won’t unwarp the kettle.
I want impact, the magic of my fists
fixing metal through their brute launch.
Wish I’d had the luck to gulp a clock—
to have a life divided by firm ticking
from a heavy center. Instead Tink, Tink
coming always from the outside, feather-
feeble, the brush of words from boys
who’ll never want more than a mother.
Instead I’m steam—Goddamn—desire like waters
thinning to the ends of me and lifting
me unwilling from the earth
each time I see him. Peter,
pull me down. I want you
but wish I did not need your hands
to do my dirt work, your heavy heat to solder
or your pretty mouth to
tell me over, make me more
than a sliver of a dead child’s laugh.
Kiss me kettle-hard: yank
my sorry ass from Never.
Somewhere I’m skin without wings.
Somewhere my name means tough as light.
The use of persona in such an unexpected way is one of my favorite parts of this poem, but I want to focus on the sounds. I could read this poem aloud over and over and never grow tired of the sounds. The hard “k” sounds in the poem are perfectly tuned to the metallic anger of the tinker fairy, and yet despite its hard consonants, there is a soft heart to the poem. Phrases like “feather-feeble” and “heavy heat” give this Tinkerbell both a hard core and a soft desire.
If you want to write:
1. Choose a character famous in children’s literature and give that character a voice that has NOT been heard before.
2. Experiment with sound as it relates to the occupation of your speaker. What sounds would be right for a poem about a mechanic? A pilot? A plumber? A farmer?