Write what you know, the experts say.
As I sat reading the poems that comprise Upon the Blue Couch by Laurie Kolp, the thought kept recurring: She writes what she knows. These are the poems about a life. These are the poems about a life being lived.
And where is life lived? Where most of us live it. The car wash. The doctor’s office. On vacation. Working. Seasonally. Who is it lived with? Spouses. Children. Relatives. The people at church. And how is it lived? With joy and zest and fear and depression and laughter and tears.
Kolp’s poems address all of these subjects and themes, and more. But whatever she turns her eye to, you can be sure it’s where life is lived. Like in the title poem – upon the blue couch.
Upon the Blue Couch
Maybe I didn’t write a thing today.
Maybe I sat on this twenty-year-old
muted blue couch and did nothing
but think about the wear and tear
from move after move we’ve been through,
with washed over mars, the scars
of cigarettes and vomit,
having been passed out upon and puked upon,
a shoulder when I needed one
to cry my eyes out upon.
Maybe I remembered all the lovers
who have lied
sprawled upon its pillows
with hungry lips I’ve kissed,
hands upon thighs, breasts upon chest,
all to feel something better than
what was missing in my heart.
Maybe I dreamed about my husband
and all the time we’ve rued upon
blue obsequious fabric,
worrying about the economy we’ve fallen upon—
with curse words or whispers
sometime sat opposite ends,
sometimes hand in hand,
but always with a love
never to be crashed upon.
Maybe I recalled my babies
sleeping upon their daddy
sleeping upon the cushions
as they sought solace in colicky times
and I was too tired to stay awake,
my nipples having been sucked upon
and sipped upon one too many times,
their cracks a small sacrifice
for a lifetime of nourishment.
Maybe I didn’t write a thing today,
but this twenty-year-old blue couch did.
The blue couch is an artifact, and over the course of a life and its own life becomes a repository of memory. But more is happening here then memory. And it has to do with the one word that’s the single most repeated word in the entire poem. (See if you can find it without reading on.)
It’s the preposition, upon. It implies relationship, a physical presence, almost a kind of platform. And that’s what the blue couch becomes – a platform for memory, and memories, both good and bad.
Kolp has published poetry in a number of literary magazines, and is also an accomplished photographer. She’s also a wife, mother of three children, manager of two dogs, and the vice president of the Texas Gulf Coast Writers. She blogs under her own name.
Because Kolp writes of the everyday, she writes of the familiar. These poems and the life they paint are recognizable. We see ourselves in the poems; we share the emotions they evoke; and the life and lives they represent become our lives.
And we, too, find ourselves sitting upon the blue couch, sharing the laughter, the anger and the tears. It is our blue couch, too.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.