A while back, I posted a poem, “Wildflowers and Weeds,” inspired by an overgrown field filled with rows of rusting sedans that I happened across in eastern Indiana. The poem ended with the lines “in a field/of rusted sedans/overgrown with longing.” I took the poem to my monthly writers group and they suggested a couple revisions. One was to change “rusted” to “rusting.” This made immediate sense as the poem is in the present tense and, of course, the sedans continue to rust. They also suggested changing “longing” to something else. “Hope” was suggested. The general thinking was that I should end the poem with a bit of a twist– a word that takes the reader in a different direction. A bit of a twist, if you will.
All that got me thinking about how to end the poem. What is the best word? What is the general emotion or thought that I want to leave?
I wrote out the poem again, keeping the first six lines as I initially wrote them:
in a field
of rusting sedans
overgrown with _______________
But, how to end the poem? Words under consideration are: longing (not giving up on that one yet), regret, disregard, desire, hope, loss, consequences, neglect, expectation, memories…
“Longing” and “desire” are related, with “longing” implying more of a sense of loss. “Regret” implies a certain amount of unhappiness with the result– we wish we hadn’t done something, like leave the cars in the field to rust. I kind of liked “neglect,” but that also seemed too obvious. Of course the field and cars were overgrown with neglect. If they were being tended, they wouldn’t be overgrown. The line seemed redundant. Going back to the group’s suggestion, I considered “hope,” but hope seems a little misplaced given the condition of the cars.
I wanted to try to find a word that fit with both the cars and the image of backseat lovers and maybe even the field itself. “Expectation came to mind, in the sense of expectation for a return to something else or expectation for a new future. “Consequences” perhaps? In that, the condition of the field and the cars is a consequence of whatever action or lack of action had been taken at one time. “Consequences” also made me think of the backseat lovers who might not be thinking about the consequences of their acts. But, the word seemed so final and perhaps implied a little guilt.
I like “disregard.” It seems to fit with the idea of backseat lovers caught up in the moment without regard for the consequences of their actions. It also points to neglect– the field and cars allowed to become overgrown and allowed to rust– disregard for the condition of the field and cars.
So, I’m down to a choice between “longing” and “disregard.” It’s a toss-up.
Overgrown with longing.
Overgrown with disregard.
What shall it be?