She copies her friends and decides to write a poemish thing a day for a month. After all, if they told her to jump off a bridge, sure, she would jump off a bridge. Why not?
Good Lord, I’ve got to write a poemish thing, she tells her daughter. They are sitting in a semi-grimy motel room on Day Four of a 1500-mile road trip. It’s check-out time.
Like right now, she says to her daughter. Quick, give me a topic.
Fruit! says the daughter.
Fruit? Too general. Too broad. Despite the fact that for some reason all she can picture is Minnie Pearl in a fruit hat with the price tag dangling off.
Give me a specific fruit, she says to her daughter.
Her daughter sounds so sprightly. Fruit! Apple! That’s what happens when you’re a child, packed and ready to go and eating a pre-packaged sweet roll of indeterminate age while watching morning television in a semi-grimy motel room. You become sprightly.
Sprightly or not, the daughter said apple and apple it shall be.
Apple. What can possibly be poemized about an apple that won’t make her weep with cliche?
Eve ate one and all the trouble began: the new clothes, the shame, the forcible exit from the garden. But was it so great in that garden, really? The whole idea always strikes her as the equivalent of the white clouds and harps and halos in the New Yorker cartoon heavens, those blah middle-aged paunchy angels peering down at the lost world below.
* * *
Is it fun, with all that peace up there? Do you look down on us, you who used to be us, down here amongst the grit and the grime, you who no longer eat anything, let alone apples, peering down from your clouds on we who do, and shake your heads knowingly, glad to be done with it all and safe up on your clouds?
Or do you wish you were still here? Do you secretly wish you could trade places with, say, me, still eating apples, like this one, warm in my hand from a tree warmed by September sunshine?
I would, if I were you. Look at this apple, and look at me eating it. Look at me, with this crunch and this color and this flavor flooding my mouth.
Give me dirt. Give me tears, and a throat sore from crying. Give me laughter that makes my stomach hurt. Give me sex. Give me this wide brown churning river outside this grimy hotel window. Give me these muscles and bone and blood still dripping from this cut thumb. Give me a mountain that makes my legs ache. Give me this beating heart that hurts in a thousand ways. Give me this child, that man, this dog and the sun glinting off that hurrying river.
Give me fear, and give me wonder.
Keep your clouds and your harps and your halos, poor sad jealous angels peering down from your whiteness, and give me this world, this enormous world with its dirt, and its bruises, and its worms, yeah, I’ll take them too.
* * *
I stand with you, girlfriend. I’ll take them too.
“Poemish,” I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that word before. It makes me smile. I wonder if there is a verb poemize. If not, would writing a definition launch me in a new direction, turn me from gazing from the clouds to tasting the earth. Lying in the cool mud naked again. Allowing the butterflies to sit on my nose and fan me?
Ah, Alison, your poemish thing gives ME wonder.
Beautiful. I love “give me a mountain that makes my legs ache”–the intersection of the outer landscape with one’s own physical body.