Rose season: What keeps coming back

Rose with reddish leavesWe cut down this rosa rubrifola last year. It was in the way when we were trimming the laurel hedges, and my husband asked if it was okay to get rid of it. I said yes and muttered that it would just grow back anyway. That wasn’t the first time I’d cut it down to below the ground, trying to saw through the root. This is what it looks like today.

It might not bloom this year, but it’s back.

Writing is like that. Lately, I’ve been thinking about poems in my “old stuff” pile–old stuff as in “just don’t send these out anymore” and wondering whether I can salvage them, or pieces of them.

I’ll open the file for a poem that I thought was really working five years ago. I’ll look at it, and sometimes I can see exactly why it’s not working. Other times, it just looks like a train wreck, but it’s an educational mess. I guess this is why people commonly advise to put your poems in a drawer for two years and come back to them. Instead, I tend to send them out for a while, give up, consign them to the poetry attic. A few years later, maybe they start to haunt me.

So I’ve been looking at this fiercely stickery rose returning in the corner of the garden and I’ve been looking at some old poems and thinking maybe they, too, still have some life in them.

Do you keep your old work around? Do you give it a rest before you send it out? Do you find new life in it?