|Picture courtesy of JP.|
WRITTEN IN SNOW
We extinguished two glasses of port,
drained the lamp,
transfigured from dressed to undressed.
Both times were revelatory.
The way you spoke then did not speak:
everything was newly sparse–
more new than sparse.
I do not remember it all, now,
what we said afterwards:
The virtues of simplified over traditional,
But we kept the blinds two-thirds drawn
and from your warm bed
we caught slivers of tree branches
in soft toques.
The snow had stopped and the road was icy
when we left. What took place already seemed hazy;
even your steadying arm around my shoulder
Friendly people, we commented
on irrelevant things: the barber shop over there,
the dog park. Then I saw phrases fingered on cars,
unconvincingly hidden in snow. The calligrapher,
in haste, had chosen simplified.
It doesn’t matter, I guess.
New snow may fall, cover the slate.
And given time, all words melt.
Stunning picture! And I like how your poem ends with “all words melt”. Is a double meaning intended: 1) words themselves melt; 2) words melt hearts?
Does the poem imply that the couple prefer 'simplified' over 'traditional' and long-term relationship?
What is so very awesome about this Tams is that the poem's form and syntax are an expression of its theme. But more than that, it expresses the hope for the thing unsaid. It is tragic without being dramatic. I truly love this new style. It is like rain.
Please submit this one to a print magazine. And may I make a tiny suggestion: Instead of “simplified” in the final line of stanza 6, maybe try a very understated phrase, like “Clean me” or “Merry X-mas” something that, in itself, is an embodiment of simplicity, but ripples through the rest of the poem suddenly.
Anyhow, just an idea. I like like it very much as it is, and think it is already at that point where it holds so well that any small change you make (or if you make no changes) will only shift, not undermine the poem.:-)
Phill , I think 'simplified' and 'traditional' in the poem refer to the two types of Chinese characters. In stanza 6, 'simplified' refers to the style the vandalist has used to write in the snow, not what he/she has written. Of course, 'simplified' and 'traditional' may also be metaphors for the characters' relationships. Am I right, Tammy?
The couple in the poem should stick with phonetic alphabet, or at least latin. Less room for interpretation, and more efficient communication.
I really like the idea of “Simplified over traditional”. 🙂
Chinese couples used to have very simple relationship too – they fall in love, get married, and raise children together – long lasting, formulaic and no complications incurred(breakup/ divorce). They were totally committed to their families and would stick together no matter what.
Now, the cycle is shortened (further “simplified”) to “meet, sleep and bye”. And people apply and reapply this cycle to many different others. The relationship is superficial and volatile.
I think there's no abosolute right or wrong/ bad or good in these 2 modes – the long-lasting traditional marriage of course has its own drawbacks (they might be bound to stick together even they love no more) while some older couples are still having their happily-ever-after; and the fast food cycle gives people what they exactly need in postmodernity.
Madeleine told Tammy: “'all words melt' reminds me of the dickens quote you (and i) like: the world is wide enough for all of us”