• the thought fox

you could make this place beautiful - maggie smith

"...a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways..." A poet could find a universe between the gap of a word and its meaning, a phrase and the shadow it casts on reality; between language and her paramour, meaning. This is the joy of metaphor. There is a hiatus between two imaginations, or domains of experience, and that is where the magic happens. The moment Maggie Smith speaks about life with a dry conviction, almost mocking the hollow, syrupy tones that well-meaning adults bestow upon their platitudes, a smile begins to pry open the reader's lips. This poem is a game, a maze, a piece of thread that the persona dangles a little far from the reader's feline attempts to grip the heart of the poem. We are led on by her simple, matter-of-fact assertions about life - comments made not with the nervous energy of exploration, but the tentative confidence of experience. The metaphor of a realtor swims under the surface of the poem, until it erupts to the surface in the end. Even this final exposition is not sudden, or explosive. Smith ventures the complex existential dilemma of a life filled with astonishing beauty and deep depravity and misery with a finesse that is at once so abstract, and, yet so real that the unconscious mind pauses, and then realigns its lenses to a reality that both of us (the poet and me) share. This kind of style that is, at once both deliberately vague and piercing, reminds me of the poetic arc (not tonality) of Ursula K Leguin's short story "the ones who walk away from Omelas" which describes a land filled with joy, a carnival of excess and luxury. But something seems amiss- and we find in the end that the prosperity of the place depends upon the perennial sorrow and suffering of a child in captivity.

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