Poet Devin Koch provided the inspiration behind this week’s writing prompt, and fiction writer Kelsey Schurer wrote the following poem “Aphrodite Takes a Wheel-Throwing Class” for this week’s writing prompt response.
Writing Prompt: Write a poem using five random verb-noun pairings given to you by anyone! You may match up the verbs and nouns in the way of your choosing and disperse them throughout the poem.
Verbs given: Lactate, Vibrate, Simmer, Quake, Molt
Nouns given: Sea-foam, Zebra, Bolo-Tie, Periwinkle, Book
My Own Word Pairings:
Lactate — Sea-foam
Simmer — Periwinkle
Quake — Bolo Tie
Molt — Zebra
Vibrate — Book
Aphrodite Takes a Wheel-Throwing Class
Outside, the snow simmered periwinkle
against the blue ridge mountains
crisp and vile as dry clay. I’d begun
at the wheel again, throwing pots
that have no shape: envy at the girls
who could do better, hands cupped against
the molding clay like breasts, vats vibrating
books and coats off the storage shelves.
Once, in the summer of two-thousand and three,
I saw a molting zebra-striped miniskirt
on the racks of the Goodwill and imagined
my body wrapped inside, legs thin
as a Twiggy-inspired model, pale as snow,
tongue wagging outside my mouth at the boys
wearing suits and quaking bolo-ties round
their thick necks. I was never in love
as a young girl, never had that red-beet
pulse of a first kiss, nor the sneaky
bus-ride gropes thereafter. Instead, I asked
my father to take me to an art class
in the basement of a Presbyterian church
where the instructor gave me a heron-white
canvas and a paper-plate full of color.
As if out of a clam shell, lactating sea-foam
towards the shore, I suddenly knew
my own brilliance.
Therefore, it came as
a surprise, that at the wheel, there is no sea
to dance with, no music hidden in shells.
Only madness spinning tightly
into my hands, which fumbled and hit
and failed again to make shape out of nothing.
Is this what love is really like? I wondered.
All the whistles of ship captains,
all the gifts of mermaids and mermen,
those lonely stars at the spray of the cliffs,
never taught me how to fault and fawn
the bits of my own body
the way that Botticelli did.
Kelsey Schurer is a second year fiction writer at Virginia Tech. She is a fiction reader for the minnesota review.
Devin Koch is a second year poet at Virginia Tech. He is the managing editor of the minnesota review.