Last week, my daughter Mary surprised me by calling and telling me that their children had requested to come to my house for the last day of summer vacation. Of course, I was delighted for them to come, especially after the long months of quarantine when I couldn't see them at all. Now we are all in a bubble together and can even share hugs.
The kids were thrilled to enjoy my air conditioning. After years with no air conditioning in their home (they live closer to the beach and it is usually somewhat cooler there), my niece offered to loan them a room air conditioner while she is in England with the Navy, and I have an image in my head of the six of them sitting around the unit like others might sit by the fire in winter time. But having central air conditioning is much more comfortable overall.
I was surprised that Mary had brought her latest comments on my chapbook, Portal of Light. She suggested moving some of the new poems to various points earlier in the chapbook, and this made sense and was easily done. I had a few changes to make in a couple of them, and have been working on them since.
However, we finally came down to the ziggurat sections. I had taken the whole last section of the chapbook, which was set on the ziggurat, removed some verses, broken it up into multiple sections, wedged in quotes from Song of Songs and somewhat vainly hoped that Mary wouldn't notice that the ziggurat was still there. She was adamant, however, that the ziggurat, while it might be a good poem separately, did not belong in the chapbook, since the additional poems she had had me write were set in Bethlehem or Jerusalem, not in the countries where the ziggurats might have been built (Babylon or Assyria, for example). As she pointed out her vision for the other poems, and the points of intersection with the rest of the chapbook, I began to see past my prejudice in favor of the first idea I'd had of this chapbook and the much wider view that my daughter had.
So, although the ziggurat had appeared in my very first verses of the original chapbook, after I imagined myself walking through what I originally called "The Gate of Gratitude," I now have to dismantle the entire structure of the ziggurat upon which the chapbook was originally built. I had noticed that at one point I placed the action at the peak of the ziggurat and in the very next section, it was set in the mountains, and although at the time I constructed a verbal bridge from the ziggurat to the mountain path, it seemed very awkward. But I can see that by removing this foreign structure, as beautiful as it may have been, I will be allowing the chapbook to become a more integral journey of the heart through gratitude, grief and hope.