Perception by Meaghan Eliot

That jazz in the summertime

can make the heat

bearable. With Louis

trumpeting “I’m in the Mood for Love,”

the static from old records

and a woo-woo

from woodwinds,

clarinet reeds damp and sweaty,

all that sticky perspiration

sculpts a sex appeal,

gives July and August

their muggy flavor.

 

That you should never underestimate

the rain a cloud can hold.

 

That I believe the best

ball player

was not Babe Ruth,

but Lou Gehrig.

That disease can make a man

stronger.

 

That the anticipation of pain

does not make it hurt less.

 

That sailboats have a funny shape.

That from above water

they look easily capsized,

the sides of long and narrow sloops

seem like they’ll dip, tipping

either starboard or port,

but not keeping balance.

That it needs speed,

momentum to keep its bow

above the waterline.

That, if the wind were nonexistent

and the darting boat to slow,

its slick mahogany would

slip.

 

That we can easily

lose equilibrium.

 

 

That if you use public restrooms

you are guaranteed

at some point

to be in a stall without toilet paper.

That you’ll sit there

on the toilet,

waiting for the next person to enter,

hoping you’ll be brave enough

to ask them to slip you some

under the partition, just a handful.

But of course, you’ll wait

longer than normal,

and when someone finally does

come in, they’ll be in a group—

three or four ladies

cackling on about some

co-worker,

or ex-boyfriend they’ve just

run into, how he’s gotten fat and old

looking. They won’t

be able to hear your small

“excuse me.”

 

That even in our most private moments,

we are exposed.

 

That there is a time and place

for the ampersand.

I wonder if people who use it

may just be lazy

or possibly don’t know how to

spell “and.”

That I’ve used it

and felt ashamed.

That it is just one more

promotion for pairing. Almost pretty

by itself:

more of a treble clef, looping

around the five-lined measures,

curling around middle G,

or like the General Mills™ “G”

on kids’ morning cereal boxes.
But in a sentence,

a perfectly good sentence,

grammatically correct

and errorless otherwise,

it is one gigantic mar in the middle,

a smashing pimple on the line.

 

That a breath rises and falls,

but language is almost always

horizontal.

 

That not everything has to be

profound.

Philosophy over breakfast,

meaning in every forkful, every bite

containing a life-changing event.

That the search for ideology

becomes more desperate;

that we hope it’s hiding

everywhere,

even under the hash browns.

 

That everyone needs vices.

 

That coffins were designed for

men, their original triangle shape,

gradually compressing

downward, suggesting

those of us with hips and curves

do not belong.

 

That only the narrow will fit.

 

That an 18-month-old

can look like an 80-year-

old man: teeth missing,

drooling, wrinkled,

with a vacant expression

and an upturned nose—

as if you weren’t good enough

for him,

like looks from so many men

before him.

 

That animals should have souls.

 

That florescent lighting

doesn’t flatter anyone.

That even beauty

disappoints

and all that is created

can turn upon itself.

That we can be grateful

and still despise;

can be compassionate

and still make enemies;

can be in awe

and still destroy.

 

That we have not yet learned how to be

imperfect.

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Categories: Issue 2 - Spring 2012, Periodicals, Poetry | Tags: | Leave a comment

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