Issue 169, Spring 2004
The Art of Metaphor
The leaves are curled like fingers from which the wrist
Is broken. The X-rayed wrist in four parts, with a
That the stoop-shouldered doctor points to: “A delta,”
He says, “a confluence of threadlike rivers! ” He doesn’t laugh
Exactly, showing you the instrument he’ll lock into your arm.
On tv there are pictures of the baby they say the nanny killed.
In the turbulent courtroom, the parents wear alligator pins
To denote his favorite toy. That’s not right, I say.
The mother did it! But loss is loss, anonymous.
Someone shook the baby; someone bruised the floating
In the class, I try again: What are the brown leaves like?
Look out the window! The leaves provide an opportunity,
I tell the children. How many similes can you contrive;
Just combine the unexpected and the true.
The children find it hard to do.
They’d rather run headlong into the hazy air
To the seared edges of the fenced-in soccer field
That’s serene, like a sound set on which the perfect
Children are at play, though they are conscious,
Already, of the point they’re making.
The thin ones stretch and raise their arms, as if
To show they’re feeling free. And the other ten year olds,
With breasts already, endeavor, and it is hard,
To get where they’re going
To get where they’re supposed to go.