Editing “June 6th”

June 6th

There were eleven grains of sand left
in her shoe, weeks afterwards.
The beach had long washed away leaving
behind scraps of memories.
It had rained all weekend so they
had huddled in the corner of a
bus shelter exchanging love tokens,
while old women in pink scarves
looked on sourly at their twisted joints.
The cruel memory of a long lost life
as sharp as the cut of lemon
through bitter black tea.
Refreshed by view and judgement,
clamber onto the number nineteen bus to
sit tall and enjoy the superiority of age.

June 6th was originally inspired by the words “love, beach, lemon” back as part of the Three Random Words project. The changes made in this poem are quite telling about how I edit when I have had a long break but the original idea remains strong.

Original Version

There were fourteen grains of sand left
in her shoe, weeks afterwards.
The beach had long washed away leaving
behind grains of memories.
It had rained all weekend so that they
had huddled in the corner of a
bus shelter exchanging love tokens
while old women in pink scarves
looked on sourly at their twisted joints.
The cruel memory of a long lost life
sharp as the cut of a lemon
through bitter black tea.
Then refreshed they clamber onto
the number nineteen bus to sit tall
and enjoy the superiority of age.

The middle section of the poem is exactly the same, and apart from a tiny change so is the start. The end has been refined and made clearer. I wanted to draw a more obvious line between first impressions and snap judgments by tightening up the language in the last few lines. I also wanted to change the emphasis onto the viewer rather than the young couple so I broke the lines differently to shift the natural pauses.
I think more than anything this edit shows how much I work on the page rather than being a poet who reads aloud. I love listening to poetry but I don’t write poetry to be read aloud – I am a visual writer. I’m much happier with the second version although the changes seem to be small they just worked out the little issues I had with it.

Vick.

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