Tuesday poem: Pages like football fields

March 19, 2012

Pages like football fields

People try to bring home
what is happening in the Amazon
and they reach for metaphors, like tools.
They hope to find the metaphor
to push reluctant minds into consciousness.
A metaphor as useful as a chainsaw
that fells a thousand-year-old tree.

Some people turn to mother
and speak of the earth’s bosom.
Or of a thick green girdle
(Mother is an unfashionable dame)
of wombs and deep forest fecundity.
When they really work themselves up,
they speak of raping the earth,
which must equate to removing a girdle
In such people’s minds.

Still others take a sporting approach,
calculating the number of football fields
lost to the dozer each minute.
Suggesting that if we only blew a magic whistle,
the infringement would cease, fair play break out.
Such people tackle issues head on,
so long as the goals are clear, and the weather fine,
they’ll take a punt at converting you.

And of course the difficulty is that what happens
Is no metaphor at all, nor a smiling simile.
What is lost, can not be substituted.
It is this process of substitution
which allows some to think money
when they see that thousand year tree.
Just as others call starvation, debt.
These things stand in for each other,
support each other.
That is the problem with minting too many metaphors.
They prop up things that should be brought down.

However, let me present one more.

If this page were the rainforest,
the letters its constituent parts:
jaguar, fungus, creeper, human,
then in ten fleet years (or fewer)
the man who borrowed this book from the library
would have ripped it out, jaggedly.
By doing so, he has caused
all the book to unravel.
Slothfully it started,
leaves dropped daily,
the spine collapsed.
Now it is not a book.
punctuation is gone
pages and w rds have g

P.S. Cottier


From my first poetry book, The Glass Violin.

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4 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Pages like football fields”

  1. A. J. said

    I love it, yes metaphors are dangerous things – especially when they are old and tired and moth-eaten.

    To really understand the devastation you have to walk through the forest and see the shattered carcasses, the barren land – & your destruction of words brought that image back to mind as clear as glass 🙂

    • pscottier said

      I originally wrote a draft of this poem about twenty years ago, Alicia. If I wrote it now, I think I’d be more likely to focus on logging in Australia, although certainly Brazil probably has the most global significance. Thanks for your response; I have never seen an area just after it has been cleared (a word too near to cleaned).

  2. There is an interesting mixture of sadness and wry humour in this poem which, you perhaps won’t be surprised to learn, I like very much!

  3. pscottier said

    I find there’s quite a lot of sadness combined with wry humour around Tim. If you weren’t in another country I’d say it was contagious. I’m almost a one person pundemic though, and your humour doesn’t stoop to that much.

    Glad you are able to comment again!

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