Monday, August 27, 2007
I have always lived between worlds.
I am bi-coastal, defending east when I'm west, west when I'm east. I know my way around various lines of underground transportation, but I won't look twice if your house smells of cleansing sage and you ask all the guests to leave their Ugg boots on the porch.
I spent three years hosting poetry slams shouting encouragement at the crowd, the largest chunk of which was under 20 and overflowing with angst, and then would be invited to read for a Jeffers' Tor House benefit, where the white-haired attendees would sip wine and no one begged to get in for a buck cuz it was all they had, man.
When I taught in Hungary, I learned all the polite-isms to nod at my colleagues, but would spend all my free time with my students (learning cooler stuff).
So it doesn't surprise me that I'm here again, in a borderland.
As a poet, I avoid cliche - oh, let's just say it - like the plague. The glue of poetry is fresh, rich metaphor. But as someone who writes for newspaper (we'll just stay clear of those needling little titles like "reporter"), I am asked to embrace cliche with - indeed - open arms. Newspapers are built on the idea of cliche. New metaphors are frowned upon, edited. You need look no further than the headlines.
My life as a mother falls right smack in the middle of the scale where metaphor and cliche are concerned. I want to find new metaphors for what I'm doing, what I'm burdened by and blessed with, but the easy ones, the old, tired comparisons are so easy to walk into, their little siren voices calling, calling...
My son wraps himself in a ribbon and asks me to tie it.
"Present!" he then tells me. "Open!"
"What could be inside?" I wonder as I untie the bow.
"Me!" he squeals and leaps into my arms.
As required of any toddler game, it is repeated over and over again. And each time, I receive my gift with equal parts joy and discovery.
What's a poet to do?