Tuesday, November 15, 2016
What Does It Mean?
as if by her own dreams
the traveler at rest
This past week, as I've looked back over some of my work, I see new meanings...and new is not always better, especially when warped by the filter of despair, discouragement, and disillusion that has permeated recent days.
Were we being "framed"--set up, betrayed, tricked--by our own dreams? That was the furthest thing from my mind when I made this little notebook sketch in the lobby of the Paramount Hotel near Times Square this past summer. But now that I look back, George and I were in the city to see The Crucible, so perhaps the idea of being "framed" was lingering there in the space between the subconscious and the intentional. All I perceived at the moment was the lovely not-quite-profile of this stranger sitting in the lobby, with the oversized piece of generic hotel art behind her, the art more lovely for her face in front of it.
A colleague of mine--a computer science instructor who also loves poetry--just appeared at my office door to ask me about a stanza of one of my poems. "What does it mean?" he wanted to know. I cannot usually quote my own work from memory (that's why I write it down!) but I knew exactly the lines to which he was referring, and I also could tell him the precise inspiration for those lines, and how I used a painting technique as a metaphor for how to live one's life.
Our conversation probably didn't last longer than 45 seconds, but we covered the power of metaphor, the relationship between poetry and painting, the mind of Vermeer, how artists know when a piece is "finished," and why a line or two of a poem can stay with us. And, of course, what it all means. Maybe.