Saturday, June 08, 2013

Morning becomes electric

No offense but if there are more than enough people in the elevator, I’m not getting in. I will wait for it to return empty. Especially if it’s 80F degrees out. Like now.

I still can’t make the celsius/fahrenheit calculation. I can navigate either system and know what the temperatures imply, but ne’er the twain shall meet. 

Speaking of which, I was at the doctor the other day and she asked how tall I was. I said I didn’t know. She asked how much I weighed. I said, “you’re asking me?” It’s not that I don’t know, it’s that I don’t know in meters and kilos. I STILL don’t know after 20 years in Germany. I have failed to dovetail.

Which brings me to the crossroad of lamplight and frost, the opening image of my poem, "Crossroad Ghazal," now up now at Fugue. 

At the crossroad of lamplight and frost, my compass fails. 
Let the chasm lull; let the landscape adjourn for sleep. 

Later the poem says “a hot wind becomes me.” It’s not for me to decide, but I’d like this to mean “become” in both the transformational (turn into) and the flattering sense (to suit). I’d like to jump that chasm. 

When I was young one of the books prominently displayed (for my unknown height at the time) on my parents’ shelves was Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra.” I long thought “becomes” was used in the transformational sense, as in ice becomes water. Later I realized it could mean black suited Electra’s complexion (or Lavinia’s, in the play). 

In fact mourning does transform Electra; it engulfs her and she is inseparable from it. 

I played with that book spine a lot when I was a kid. When I thought of the title - which was one of the phrases that stuck to me and popped up in my mind at odd times - I made the mental shift to “morning” and changed “electra” to “electric.” 

You can actually watch the whole play here, if you don't mind bad lip-sync and commercials. 


Anonymous said...

I just learned this a few days ago so I haven't had a
chance to forget it yet.

Double the Celsius and add 30 = Fahrenheit.


Kathleen said...

I love the way your brain works (and also how it doesn't, as in dovetail!). Gorgeous ghazal--"surrender ash and urn for sleep" and "Ruin suits me" particularly grabbed me each time I read it through. Your ghazals are wonderful.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Am a sucker for crossroads, compasses, topographies, and sleep. Love the ghazal!

Also, what a fascinating title to be fascinated with as a child. Love all the language play there.

SarahJane said...

Thanks for reading!

Johanna - I usually don't have to convert the temperatures so I always forget the formula!

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