I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Collins, Billy. The Apple That Astonished Paris: Poems. United States, University of Arkansas Press, 2014.
Why I chose this poem
Over the years, I've discovered most poems I love evoke unreconcilable contradictions in me. This one, for example, absolutely delights me with the metaphors of ways to experience a poem. It jars me with the gender of the mouse. And it annoys me with its judgementalness toward the students. I spent too long as a public school teacher in the US, watching the system crush the kids at the same time that it took a greater responsibility for raising them. I can't blame them for acting out what was enacted upon them.
It is an impetus for starting a site that takes me away from doom scrolling and superficial headline scanning and into the quiet space between words well chosen.