Thought seriously about trying to write a poem today – heavy on metaphors of life’s distractions, using squirrels as my vehicle of choice, much as Stevie Smith used the Person from Porlock, but discovered yet again that poetry just doesn’t seem to be my metier, and moreover, the metaphor is hopelessly silly.
It’s a beautiful morning, fresh with sun and breeze melting snow after three days of gloom and cold – a taste of what’s to come. I am sitting in bed reading Michalel Horwitz’ “Blue Latitudes” and thinking life is good. Spent literally all day yesterday marking papers and such, getting ready for Monday, so felt I had created a bit of space in my day to indulge a long lie in, reading for pleasure (what a concept!), then looked out to see those marauding squirrels down below, in the lower branches of the trees, cleverly removing the top of the bird feeder in order to pig out, not happy to eat the gleanings off the ground, oh no. I went barefoot out onto the balcony scooping up handfulls of wet snow, and proceeded to scare them off. Settled back in with cold feet and read some more, only to discover the squirrels creeping back into the periphery of my vision, twitching nervously in the branches and biding their time. It was at this point I thought of the splendid metaphor. The poem would have gone something like this:
“At the edges of perception
Hovering impatiently for a time
They wait to be ignored ….”
So, I scrapped it, naturally. It occurred to me that squirrels are not a metaphor for life’s obligations. As a matter of fact, squirrels are not metaphors for anything. They are squirrels, and the more I start to invest meaning in them beyond their squirrelly suchness, the more untenable and strained the conceit becomes. Why not mosquitoes, or cats, or anything else which disrupts thought? Or marking papers, for that matter? Marking papers is not a metaphor, man. It’s the real deal.