March 21, 2017

Recycled Materials, By Erin Wyble Newcomb

Yesterday, I was news
Print, one sheet of black and white lines
Marching like soldiers in file with my sisters.
That’s the way the story goes.
Today, I am yesterday’s news,
Folded and smudged by fingers and
Sliced by scissors.
The first snip nearly shocked me into tomorrow.
Carefully I took on new form:
Good news or bad news, doll.
Mine is a storied, recycled life.
Today, I am a paper ballerina, outlined
Gracefully with rows of unreadable print
Distorted out of shape.
That’s the way the story grows.
Yesterday, I was news not fit to be
Prima ballerina. I wasn’t born this way, with a
Silver spoon smooth on my pulpy tongue.
Yesterday, I longed for
Tin: shining and malleable. But I don’t need a
Metal to tell me I look good on
Paper. That old spoon might not have a
Leg, but he stands fast.
What’s his story? I wonder
What’s my story?
Yesterday a spoon, today a soldier, and
Tomorrow? Who knows, my heart?
The story goes and grows and never gets reduced
In the telling.

Yesterday, I got read,
Never knowing my sisters would be paper boats and
Wrapping paper and paper crowns with every
Fold and snip and smudge of destiny.
We are old stories, recycled,
Today I read the expression of the last tin soldier and
I know love is an infinitely
Renewable resource. We are reduced and reused and
Recycled materials never knowing
What we will be tomorrow, except
To each other. My tin soldier
Flies through the window and
Sails my sister-boat and washes into the gutter and
Returns to me from the depths with an
Epic toy tale. What can I say?
I, too, am steadfast, even if I’m just
Paper. Old news. Dingy and dull and
No match for my shining soldier, except in
Love that kindles my breast as we’re
Swept into the fire and
I am smoke. Yesterday love and today passion that
Burns me up and tomorrow,
Who knows my tin heart?
His story is my story is our story and we
Grow as recycled materials:
It’s the telling.

Erin Wyble Newcomb writes, reads, and teaches in the Hudson Valley. She writes regular columns for Christ and Pop Culture and Organic Hudson Valley, as well as scholarly articles. This is her first foray into fiction, which fits her love for all things fairy tale. She keeps up her compulsive list-making on Twitter @ErinWyble.

Altered image by Kay Nielsen.


Aliza Faber said...

Beautiful! Such an interesting concept :)

Unknown said...

So glad this is the year of poetry! Lovely. It's the telling indeed:

"The first snip nearly shocked me into tomorrow.
Carefully I took on new form:
Good news or bad news, doll.
Mine is a storied, recycled life."


Lissa Sloan said...

Oh, I love this! It's so clever and inventive. I especially love the theme of recycling/reuse and love as a renewable resource.

M Delaney said...

I was working on a poem, and had to come back to this for inspiration. The way you play with words never fails to amuse and enthuse me. I aspire to create something this clever.