This brings to mind the French term, à point, which refers to that precious moment when a cheese is sitting at the perfect point between fully ripening and spoiling. So too, with composing poetry.
It is not always easy for me to determine whether a poem I’m writing is underdone, done, or overdone. It might need time to breath: to mellow a bit with age, or to needle me about its incompleteness.
Sometimes I become impatient with a poem and just want to be finished with it. I’ll wonder why the flow was uneven, and the last few lines awkward, as if my muse, like gears, isn’t totally engaged.
But I’ll declare it done and prepare to move on ... until I share it. My family is very well versed (pun intended) in my work, and they can recognize when I’ve become carelessly lazy with a poem.
They’ll say “You’re not done with this one,” and I’ll skulk back to my writing desk in a peevish mood, grumbling to myself, “Yeah, I knew that.” The difficulty then lies in refraining from forcing it to work.
And then there are those poems which effortlessly roll out of my pen and onto the page like a satisfied sigh, requiring only modest tweaks here and there. That’s when I suspect that I’m taking dictation from my muse.
To be fair, my capacity to write what I write has been a decades long process of learning, of refining, and of maturing in my craft, yet even now I am still learning to assess whether a poem is à point.