The Complication in Simple Truths

sleepdog

Simple truths. They abound out there. Put them to paper, though, and they may play like clich├ęs, fast and loose. You need an angle, then. You need your own way.

Pretty much, that’s the simple complication to writing. Everyone holds any given truth to be self-evident, but only one can put it in a certain way—one that makes readers nod and say, “Yes, this illustrates that truth perfectly.”

For example, let’s see how Marjorie Saiser angles in on a simple truth with the following poem:

 

Weekends, Sleeping In
Marjorie Saiser

No jump-starting the day,
no bare feet slapping the floor
to bath and breakfast.

Dozing instead
in the nest
like, I suppose,
a pair of gophers

underground
in fuzz and wood shavings.
One jostles the other
in closed-eye luxury.

We are at last
perhaps
what we are:

uncombed,
unclothed,
mortal.

Pulse
and breath
and dream.

 

Visually, the poem keeps whittling itself down to basic truths, and those basics are delivered in two final stanzas that amount to one- and two-word lines. That’s all. People like gophers in wood shavings “uncombed, / unclothed, / mortal.”

Better yet, the final word of the final stanza, so different than the physiological ones that precede it: “Pulse / and breath / and dream.” This time the short waves come without punctuation or hesitation, but we are more than just autonomous pulse and breath. We are the stuff of dreams.

A basic truth about a lazy day with a loved one. Terribly uncomplicated, really, until you tackle the complication of saying it your own way.

 

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