“I don’t agree that poems have to represent. If I want to write about a leaf falling I should be able to write about that.” — a graduate school professor
Let’s say it is autumn: the sky is darkening; the wind has
a sharp edge which pulls a leaf from a tree. This leaf can
fall and be simply that but if the poet invokes a place, writes
and creates the leaf falling in an occupied space, something
is borrowed and is owed a debt.
Let’s say you are a poet. You want to write something simple
like a leaf falling, a leaf falling in a metaphor. The leaf falls
the way dreams float out of public school windows, the way
bombs fall on a tropical island for sixty years. As the poet, you
can even describe the shape and texture of the leaf, its aero-
dynamics and the Latin name of the tree—a name folks will not
be familiar with or able to spell correctly in their minds.
If that’s too challenging for you, you, the poet, can try simile.
The leaf, now shapeless, unsure of its own design, pixilated in
your audience’s mind, falls, weaving through branches, falling
like an HIV patient’s t-cell count, like Bronx County reading
scores, like crack babies through tenement windows. Nothing