Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Words that Define


Revised

The Problem with Definitions December 1, 2008

Most three-year-olds are shown falling stars
and taught songs about pockets and wishes
saved for rainy days. Mary was given
lost in space that, when confronted with earth’s
atmosphere, fell through the sky--burning out.

The sum of a meteor’s life ended in ugly lumps
of celestial rock, nothing like the giant diamond,
perched on Mom’s hand in the photo
balanced between candle and vase,
that Dad said was a chunk of coal.

When Mary was sixteen, rainbows
and promises never crossed her mind.
Storm winds flattened the giant oak
but left the house intact.
Her father dragged her out of the closet
To revel in a brilliant double rainbow,
and discuss light refracted
through millions of water droplets
hanging in air – a misty curtain that bent
sunlight into something different.

She got married before a justice of the peace,
her hands resting on an unpainted bar
of dark wood the darkness of which was deeper
than any she had ever seen. The tears of mothers
and the sweat of the convicted had soaked into the wood
staining it more deeply than the haze of years
when people smoked in public buildings.

Smoke floats away on the wind like a whispered ‘I do.’
The fluid of humans soaks in and stains things.

She lived a simple single life;
the quotidian and habitual cloaking her in silence
as she hunched over a microscope at the Fertility Clinic.
She answered haunting questions with plain words:
yes, no. She talked of sperm and eggs but never imagined
a union or its sum. Life was basic; like an on/off switch.

She was ill for a long time. There was no sudden stop.
Hers was a long decline into darkness,
which she hoped would dissolve into nothing.

The last neuron fired into the synapse: Is there a God?
It hung suspended between the branches of two trees.


Original

Most three-year-olds see falling stars
and sing songs about pockets and wishes
saved for rainy days. Mary saw rocks
lost in space that, when confronted with earth's
atmosphere, fell through the sky--burning out.

The sum of a meteor's life ended in ugly lumps
of celestial rock, nothing like the giant diamond,
perched on Mom's hand in the photo
balanced between a candle and a vase,
that Dad said was only a chunk of coal.

Rainbows and promises never crossed her mind
when storm winds flattened the giant oak
but left the house intact.

Her father dragged her out of the closet to show her
a brilliant double rainbow and talked about light
refracted through millions of water droplets
hanging in air - a misty curtain that bent
sunlight into something different.

She got married before a justice of the peace,
her hands resting on an unpainted bar
of dark wood the darkness of which was deeper
than any she had ever seen. The tears of mothers
and the sweat of the convicted had soaked into the wood
staining it more deeply than the haze of years
when people smoked in public buildings.

Smoke floats away on the wind like a whispered 'I do.'
The fluid of humans soaks in and stains things.

She lived a simple single life;
the quotidian and habitual cloaking her in silence
as she hunched over a microscope at the Fertility Clinic.
She answered haunting questions with simple words:
yes, no. She talked of sperm and eggs but never imagined
a union or its sum. Life had was a simple on/off switch.

She was ill for a long time. There was no sudden stop.
Hers was a long decline into darkness,
which she hoped would dissolve into nothing.

The last neuron fired into the synapse: Is there a God?
It hung suspended between the branches of two trees.

3 comments:

  1. words have many different meanings to many different people...
    very interesting post...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very haunting and moving words.

    ReplyDelete