portion of artwork for Molly Gaudry's poems

Molly Gaudry’s Comments

“by muscles of the upper limb—” and “by muscular system of the upper limb and its function—” are excerpts from a long poem inspired during my first weeks living in a new city. I sent an early draft of the poem to J. A. Tyler, who enthusiastically supported the idea of its becoming the full-length project that is now a novella-in-verse titled we take me apart and is forthcoming from J. A.’s Mud Luscious Press (2009). The phrase “we take me apart” came to me while driving the fourteen hours from the old city to the new. I knew I wanted it as a refrain, a chorus. I repeated it, aloud, over and over in the car. The essence of its cadence, “we take me apart,” “we take me apart,” “we take me apart,” seemed so suggestive and, yet, succinct, to me—like the dactyl trochee lines of a Sapphic, which I quite unoriginally liken to the skipping of an otherwise steady heartbeat. Breath stealers, the finest dactyl trochee lines, heart stoppers; and while “we take me apart” is not an dactyl trochee, its purpose, its sentiment, I hope, is a shared quality.

So I wanted to take it apart, that phrase, “we take me apart,” to rip it apart, and try putting it back together again. I outlined the long poem after an anatomy textbook’s chapter headings; and incorporating repetitions of anatomical terminology, with the same obsessive quality as the “we take me apart” refrain, was present from the start. It was exciting to blend impersonal, cold, sterile words (that are, really, intensely personal, if they apply to you and are uttered by a doctor, perhaps) with deeply personal, “hot” and fertile words detailing the experiences of a speaker, who, admittedly, bears some resemblance to me during the more fucked-up and out-of-control, self-absorbed years of my life.

Now in its sixth draft, we take me apart no longer resembles either of these two poems. The reasons are too numerous to detail here, but the most relevant is that I couldn’t answer the questions: Why does this speaker have access to these medical terms? (Making her a nurse was draft two, which quickly devolved.) Why would she use them in this way? (Explaining, or, rather, justifying language via exposition was draft three, which I discarded without hesitation.) Drafts four and five were likewise put aside, when I realized the original manuscript’s “story” was not provocative enough to sustain a full-length book. The speaker, too, was astonishingly unlikable. The current draft, the final draft, summons a different speaker, a far different life, but the refrain remains. “we take me apart” is the gem of this project; it is a statement that can belong to only one person, but it begs the question: who are “we”? The answer, I hope, is the heartbeat that supports this final draft, and the language, which is always the focus of my writing, the method by which I hope to make readers’ hearts skip a beat here and there along the way—anapest troche: we take me apart: indeed.

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