Friday, April 30, 2010

something like dread

A couple of days ago, I wrote a poem entitled “Losing Hair.” Just the fact that I had written it at all was something of a breakthrough. After all, since completing my thesis in poetry (essentially sapping the old creative juices in process), I think I have written a grand total of three poems—“Losing Hair” being the third. That’s one poem every two months! And it’s not like I’m spending the in-between time fretting over them word by word in pursuit of perfection—the writer’s elusive grail. (Vanity—like chasing the wind as old King Solomon said.) No, I just clack them out, give them the twice over, and paste them in their appropriate folder, alphabet-wise.

Every once in a while I will hear my thesis director’s voice over my shoulder like some holographic Obi Wan Kenobi—“Use the mouse, Jonathan. Find the poem’s soul and there you will find your own.” By which the bygone mentor means—trim the fat in most cases, but in other cases means explore the possibilities. When I hear that voice, my pathetic (poetic?) sensibilities suffer compunction and I revisit the toddler poem with something like dread. Something exactly like dread. (Do similes lose their likening powers when the comparison becomes exact? Help me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope.)

Point being (surprise!), I wrote “Losing Hair” and plopped it in the “F-M” folder, planning to let it marinate for the usual eternity; but yesterday I got this photograph through the Amorphilacious-Antaginons (i.e., Facebook) from my old and dear friend Billie. As you can see, fifteen years ago, of all the things I may have been worried about, hair-loss was not one of them. After the shimmer of nostalgia wore off— that deep, slow radiation half-comprised of warmth and half-comprised of grins—I realized that I needed to revisit my poem, use the mouse, trim the fat, explore the possibilities.

Because losing hair is more than a physiological phenomenon brought on, in my case, by the once-faded-now-resurgent effects of radiation these several years distant. (Funny how when I lost my hair the first time it was also the least of my worries. As in my goldilocks-youth so also at my point of crisis—other cares prevailed.) Because physiology, though pressing and crucial, only represents a portion of the significance riddling any given circumstance. And so, in this poem the fact of thinning hair is only a metaphorical stand-in for the horse-powered passage of time and the misspent worries of aging.

So here, into the Nothingworld, I fling this freshly-mown poem. I would not expect too many offerings so young as this, so savor its tenderness.

Losing Hair

It happens, as most things do, at night
When curtains are drawn against
The sure-fire sun that comes
In the morning when the discovery
Happens, as most often it will,
In the boring light of day.

At night, the elves and goblins skitter
Making things like shoes and mayhem.

Also at night, as thread by thread
The glory comes undone,
Dreams of foregone dreams
Make the waking that much balder.

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