That winter can be a speech, that words can change
A child’s body from the pink flesh
Of life into an icy gown,
An act of contrition so slowly spoken…
…So fragile and pale it becomes like
The stone hands it must use
To paint the lace-ice portraits
That so confound the storm windows
As winter springs from death’s hand.
This is what we say
When we pretend not to obey.
This is the sweep of ice across the land
Turned to the blank gaze of sufferance,
The loss of sunlight, into utterance.

Published by extrasimile

define: extra: excess, more than is needed, required or desired; something additional of the same kind. define: simile: a simile is a type of figurative language, language that does not mean exactly what it says, that makes a comparison between two otherwise unalike objects or ideas by connecting them with the words “like” or “as.” The reader can see a similar connection with the verbs resemble, compare and liken. Similes allow an author to emphasize a certain characteristic of an object by comparing that object to an unrelated object that is an example of that characteristic. define: extra: an minor actor in a crowd scene

2 thoughts on “Gainsaid

  1. Hi Betsy
    Nice to see you on the pages of Extrasimile.-
    And yes, I suppose it is once again a meditation on the power of words, speech, acts of contrition, utterances, poetry—but you could also say it was a ‘provocation’ on those subjects. Example: I came across the line from Simone Weil the other day: obedience to the force of gravity. The greatest sin. Now I don’t think that Ms Weil means that one is free to obey the law of gravity or not. But I do think that someone with Parkinson’s disease should find the idea plangent and intriguing. They should also find it cause for more thought about Parkinson’s disease. Fall once or twice and you begin to get the idea. (Incidentally I quoted this at one of the therapy sessions I go to—and not only did it not provoke, it sort of made everyone go slightly deaf, couldn’t quite hear what you were saying, old boy. I have a certain reputation down there.)
    Any way the poem. It is a similar sort of provocation. ‘Gainsaid. What does that mean exactly?’ ok, so I’m trying to provoke you to look up words you’re not sure of. (And don’t end sentences with a preposition.)
    Without going into the details (there are not there, are they?) I guess I was trying to argue the case against articulation. More to get thinking. And thinking about what is not thinkable. (thinking without articulating?) More not to obey the force of gravity. Even when I say I must.

  2. As you know, I am not skilled in parsing poetry, so will leave a few thoughts.
    Another thinking about the power of words – of poetry. To gainsay is, if I understand, to contradict –
    Is utterance not indifferent? Does utterance both give life and take it away?
    We have both an “act of contrition” and a “pretending not to obey” – another gainsay?

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