We do not Write the Way We Are

Orestes' and Electra's Mum
was, in their view, the Higher Scum.
I loved my Mother and I tried
to feel less guilty, so I cried,
but in those dreams she willed me have
I dug around her missing grave -
now write that up, she said.

I do not write the way I am,
I rode on a storm when I sat in a tram,
my fears were highly rational
but only when I dreamed - The Fall
was daily life, the Workers' Wheel,
the tangled web we're told we weave,
the millions historied.

How do we scan the things we write?
Is this our fabled Second Sight,
the huge reflective Self interred
in generations of the Word?
I'd love to pose as Terrorist
or Trotsky under House Arrest,
but sadly I'm not mad.

My Mother was more a Small Investor
than she was Queen Clytemnestra
but she bought me shares in dreams,
in doing not what is, but seems -
you start out rhyming, she declared,
but go your own way into dread
with bed sores and bad words.

by Peter Porter


In this extract from Peter Porter's highly emotive collection Better than God, the award-winning poet ruminates on the act of writing, the writing Self, and the bridge between what is and what could be.