Writing Prompt by Alvy Carragher

Poem title: Writing Prompt Poet name: Alvy Carragher Poem Begins: You draw red margins, pick up the black pen and try to write  about your summer holidays. Five neat lines is all she wants.   You are full of shapeless days in the backseat, as your parents  fight over missed turns, the slow pit of time, pregnant hours   in the French countryside. The windows sometimes down,  but mostly up, air stale as you roll past villages and beaches.   It could be beautiful if you were alone, if your parents  did not slap your legs to keep you quiet. Siblings squish in   beside you, four pairs of knees in a row, your baby brother  falls asleep on your shoulder, sweaty, his head leaking dreams   and you bump him between you. He never stirs.  A half-eaten apple rots on your lap and now the white flesh   is browning, the smell rising up, everyone else tossed their cores  out the window hours ago, but you haven’t eaten enough yet.   You arrive at a cottage in the mountains. Hiking in the mornings,  dead body parts of musty saints in the afternoons. You walk   across flat vineyards with your father and the sun destroys your skin.  Three days alone in the warm attic, sticky, unable to move.   After that, all you remember is the freedom of French children  in the towns—girls in cropped tops and boys you want to look at   but can’t, not with your father watching. You play your CD man  loud until the battery runs out, then keep the earphones in   so nobody can talk to you. One night, the sky is streaked  by lightening, and you stand with your family in the doorway,   fling open windows, stare up at tremendous light forking the dark,  the world awake with miracle. None of this is what you write,  you give the teacher five lines, the page looks so stiff and so blank.   End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Alvy Carragher Alvy Carragher is an Irish poet based in Toronto. She has published three books. Her most recent poetry book the men I keep under my bed was published by Salmon Poetry, as was her debut collection of poetry, Falling in love with broken things. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, literary websites and publications such as The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, The Guardian, and The Galway Review. You can find out more about her work at www.alvycarragher.com