June 17, 2009 by skwishface
Poets are weird people. Whether it’s macabre imagery and self-loathing, or cloyingly optimistic romance, or any combination therein (I’m looking at you, emo kids), poets just don’t think like normal folk. Anyone who believes that the complexities of the human condition and the world around us can be confined to mere rhyme or meter is doomed to fight a losing battle every time they put pen to paper.
Have you ever read EmilyDickinson? Depressing lady, that. The only poem of hers I can ever remember is the one with the fly.
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
Uplifting, no? I’ve often wondered where Miss Emily got her inspiration for this one. This is a poem about the last great big moment of someone’s life, the deathbed, and the almost funny appearance of this totally oblivious fly. Clearly she wasn’t writing from real life experience, unless … oh lord … unles she’s a zombie!
That would explain SO MUCH. The hunt is on for her unpublished works, written post-undeadification. There is rumor (which I have just created) that her Ode to Braaaaaaiiiiiiins is truly moving.
…. Where was I? Oh right! Poets! And how they can never truly succeed at capturing the fullness of life in mere words!
Take this fly poem, for example. Here’s this person, presumably the author, on their deathbed. Last Rites have been read, the will has been sorted out, all the crying has been done, and now we’re just waiting for it to end. For this person’s entire life to come unravelling to its inevitable conclusion. It’s … kind of a big deal. That fly, though? He didn’t get the memo. He’s all buzz buzz oh wow look at the light buzz buzz. That fly couldn’t care less about grief or loss or whether or not the author’s soul is going to heaven or if the soul even exists at all. No. All that fly cares about is buzz buzz. Whatever that means.
While I was in the hospital – health uncertain, motherless babies scattered to various grandparents, kind of a big deal – there was this hailstorm. Big chunks of ice fell from the sky. The storm was bad enough that all patients were moved out of our rooms and into the hallways, to keep us away from the windows. My nurse mentioned that her dog was stuck outside in the back yard and would be terrified of the storm. My family was going through the biggest crisis we’ve ever had to face, but Texas weather couldn’t care less. There was a dog in a yard somewhere too busy getting the bejeezus scared out of it to spare a thought for how long my children would have to be without their mommy.
The other night, I had a nightmare. I was at a water park with The Boy, just the two of us, and The Boy was older. Probably six or seven years old. I can time-travel in my dreams. Can’t you? Anyway, we were standing in line for one of those big twisty twirly water slides when The Boy decided he wanted his own tube (the giant inflatable donut kind) to ride down the slide on. We didn’t want to lose our place in line, and there was a booth that sold tubes nearby, so I stayed in line and sent him to go get a tube. I looked away for one second and he was gone. Poof. Disappeared. Kidnapped. I screamed, I panicked, I scoured the park and harassed the authorities when they didn’t seek my son fast enough. Guilt and terror and utter despair built up inside my chest until I thought I would explode. I awoke in tears. With a cat butt on my face.
The Husband’s damn cat was curled up on my head. Again. And he only cared about my anguish in so much as my sobbing was disturbing his slumber.
Really, I guess what I’m saying is that poets can’t possibly encompass life in their words and meters. So life helps them out by producing moments of poetry for them to write about.
Yes. When I’m crying and there is a cat’s anus within inches of my nose, that’s poetry.