Poetry Friday: Percentages

This month, Linda challenged the Inklings to write “write a poem that includes the idea of percentage./percent. Percentages are all around us in recipes, prices, assessments, statistics. Include the idea of percentage in your poem.. In some way.”

During the approximately 1% of my life that I could actually sit down and write last month, I had an idea about writing a series of pi poems–poems using the sequence of pi (3.14159…) for either the word count or syllable count per line. This idea was a bit misguided, as I thought pi was a percentage. In fact, as Mary Lee reminded me, it is a ratio. Math was never my strongest subject.

Linda also inspired me with her brilliant idea to write to the #inktober prompts using images she found on Wikiart. There were several similar prompts on Instagram last month, including #theydrawtober and #birdtober, where “Goose” was the bird listed one day. Search results on Wikiart didn’t appeal to me, so I checked Google Arts & Culture, where I found this stunning quilt:

 Wild Goose Chase Quilt
Creator: Susan Reed Ruddick
Date Created: 1851
Repository: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/13912)

I come from a long line of quilters. Once upon a time, I had grand ambitions of creating my own quilts. Now I write poems instead. (The similarities between the two arts are not lost on me; maybe I’ll write about that one day.) Here is the poem that emerged from this jumble of thoughts.

Fat quarters nestle,
in a dresser drawer
to be released, snipped, stitched,
flocked, then sent off on a wild goose chase.

Draft, © 2021, Catherine Flynn

I promise it won’t be a wild goose chase if you visit my fellow Inklings to read their percentage poems:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche
Mary Lee @ A(nother) Year of Reading

Mary Lee is also hosting this week, so you’ll find all sorts of poetry goodness there.

13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Percentages

  1. I really love this poem. I keep reading it over and over trying to capture what it is that captivates me so. The word choice? The personification? The humming hope of those forgotten quarters? That clever ending? I can’t pinpoint it, so I’ll just reread and savor each bit and the wonderful whole. Also, there’s not much I enjoy more than following along on a journey to a poem. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  2. This is very very like poetry, isn’t it? We take those fat quarters of our experience, our originality; we marinate them in dresser drawers full of hope and distraction, and when we finally take them out and stitch them up, send them out into the world, they fly off in all directions while others chase them as wild geese, like wild geese. Grand, Catherine. (Now I can’t help thinking my baby quantum particle/Mary Oliver thoughts again!)

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  3. Fabulous! It is the perfect response to the challenge. Surely there is a large percentage of us who could relate to you in your confusion about pi and percentages… or ratios! I really do love brevity in poetry, when every word is weighted – and this is a beauty. Love the wit and wordplay! (I’ve just come from Bridget’s post, and Linda B’s before that (I think I’m trailing Irene around) – and this is the perfect flow-on from them – especially as Bridget had me remembering the days when I sewed a lot more than I do now!)

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  4. Now that 99% of my waking life is not spent thinking school thoughts, I am returning to the joys of thread and cloth. I come from a long line of seamstresses, but not quilters, so the term “fat quarter” was new to me this summer when I encountered it in one of the most fun fabric stores ever in Lawrence, KS. I just love saying “fat quarter” and now I own a few, which are waiting for new life in some project or another (likely NOT a quilt).

    You are so right about the crossover between needlework and poem-writing. Your poem is a quilt of all the best words stitched together in the best order (nestle, flocked, wild goose chase). And the quilt that inspired you — still amazed that the maker was ELEVEN YEARS OLD!!!

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  5. Fat quarters are 25% of a yard, right? I have a few in my basement that are forgotten. I feel them hoping, waiting for me to remember they are there. Such a lovely quilt in the photo, likely hand quilted. It’s astounding work.

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  6. You’ve touched me, Catherine, with “Fat quarters nestle” because I too come from quilters in the past & I have so many from aunts and my mother, but the most I have created was for a child’s chair seat. I have a roll of squares sewn together, still ‘nestling in a sewing box. That quilt is amazing, and your poem brings the chase we might all want to join.

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  7. What a great quilt! And I know how it goes with that 1% – my mother has passed along to me the 1% of a quilt that SHE started, and it really does need to someday, somehow, get that other 99% pulled together…

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  8. Your comparison to quilting brings tears to my eyes. My mother was expert level at any kind of handcraft or needlecraft she took to. Seriously, she finished her career as a tailor for a wedding dress shop. I always felt so different from her in my dreamy love-of-words and story self. But, you bring them together in this post and it gives me such comfort…like a quilt…like your poem. Thank you, Catherine.

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