In February, I joined a Facebook poetry-writing group created by Laura Shovan. The group writes poems to ten found words from news articles. On February 16, Ruth Lehrer culled words for #10FoundWords from “The Compost King of New York.” Here are the words–eleven in all–that we were to use in a poem.
Looking for inspiration, I read the list a couple times, finally paused at the word digester, and wonder, Exactly what is a digester? Can I play with its meaning?
I’d applied my knowledge of English morphemes deducing that a digester is one who digests. And putting that into the context of the article, I was pretty sure a digester is some type of mechanism used in the decomposition process of organic material. I typed the word into my e-dictionary, still searching for inspiration. There I read that a digester is “a container in which substances are treated with heat, enzymes, or a solvent in order to promote decomposition or extract essential components.” Couple that with my recent awareness of people who have risen out of the dire circumstances of their lives, some the only one in their family to do so, some who fled their homeland for asylum in another land. And add some thoughts about freedom, what it really means, what it doesn’t mean, and a faint trail led me to think of a digester as a person who decomposes life and overcomes. With that thought, I played with the list, and this poem found me.
In the rural recesses
of his thoughts,
Near the burial grounds
of all to be forgotten,
Where he dumps falsehoods
once thinly veiled by truth
removed like orange peels,
Where hanging scraps
of broken promises
mingle with crunchy-granola
dreams soggy in disappointment,
He will rise out of
the compost of his living,
A digester of life,
strong in the loam of
his humanity, free
of the family cartel.
© 2017 Alice Nine
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Bravo, Alice! I remember these words being quite a challenge. I love what you’ve done with them, and the optimism of the final lines. It reminds me of an inspiring movie we watched recently about a young girl from Uganda who became a world chess champion, “Queen of Katwe.”
Thank you, Catherine! They were a challenge until I decided what to do with “digester” … then it began to fall into place. I don’t know that movie, sounds good, will have to look it up.
Such a great poem, celebrating those who make it out of their own closed circles, into a light of their own choosing. Not an easy undertaking. Digesting one’s own culture, mistakes and betrayals can bring indigestion, but it brings you to art. I love the food imagery you use to show that those things are food that makes you who you are.
Thanks for coming by and sharing, Brenda. I love your thoughts about “The Digester.”
Wow! The rural recesses of his mind….burial grounds….falsehoods. You really captured an emotional setting there. Well done. I love it when a poems makes me feel like writing like this one does.
Oh, Linda, I’m so glad you shared that with me. 🙂
Very clever poem derived from that one word.
Thanks, Kiesha! Looking forward to your next post. 🙂
Yes, I agree with Jane. That is a powerful image that rises from this list of words.
Thank you, Kay. 🙂 Glad you stopped by!
What a powerful image you’ve created, representative of so many who use disappointments as fuel, and setbacks as the fire that motivates them forward.
Ah… I love your comment, Jane. You captured it well! I hope spring has arrived for you up there in “Rain City.”