Postcard Poem: Vellum

Takamiya MS 24: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

As an experiment in cultivating moments of poetry that wouldn't otherwise exist, I'm embarking on a project of postcard poetry. The brief is simple:

1) Find a postcard.

2) Look at it.

3) Write a poem about what I see.

The thrilling thing about a small practice like this is that, as a sideline to my "main event" poetry, there's basically no pressure at all. No huge time commitment; no need to be (or worse, appear) profound. No need to do anything really, other than follow a prompt (the postcard) into a space of poetry for a few minutes, and enjoy myself.

And of course, once you've opened a door/fell down a rabbit-hole into poetry, who knows where it might lead you?


This postcard depicts a vellum illuminated manuscript page from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, in the collection of the Beinecke Library at Yale. I was struck by the fact that you can see the verse on the back side of the leaf through the skin of the vellum, even in a photograph made into a postcard.


Vellum

word made flesh

written on flesh

flesh on flesh

 

read on flesh

word through flesh

word on word

 

flesh made word

 

-mjm