Tag Archives: Metaphor

Stamps and Glue and Getting Stuck

Stamps and Glue and Getting Stuck

Those lick-glue stamps stick to the paper until thoroughly soaked.  Immerse them in warm bowl-baths until the rough-edged stamps slide easily off the paper.  Thumb-rub the slick glue residue—a pleasant easy sensation.  The children place each little perforated-edge parallelogram rectangle on paper towels to dry: a rose, a frog, a train, a mountain, Santa Claus, R2-D2, newly-famous brown faces, the dear flag, Mary and the renaissance Christ-child.  Self-adhesives stole some of the simply joy of stamps, like the sound of slowly tearing along the perforation lines after folding; and the taste of glue (my god! how unsanitary!).  No amount of soaking dissolves the new adhesive, that isn’t good old glue; a careful snip-snip and you’re done; the stamp is ready for the book, forever attached to its matching piece of envelope.  Attachment is the root of all suffering, the eastern mystics teach, ancient and still-living, which they discovered by sitting in cold caves and on the banks of black rivers all their lives, free of being stubbornly stuck to any thing, or any one.  But here in the modern west I hear that joy cannot exist without courage, neither courage without vulnerability, neither vulnerability without pain.  Joy and pain are a pair, apparently: sticky stamp and envelope.  And I wonder if peace can be found, if at all, at the perfect balance point between connection and disconnection, and what the hell does that mean anyway?  The chalice, the temple, the kiva, the body of Christ—that infinitesimal point where temporality and infinity touch, commune, coexist.  (suppressed expletive.)  For all of my mortal living time I have licked myself and stuck myself to someone or something, becoming bound to the paper, and getting rudely ripped off without the mercy of a soak, and part of the stamp stays messily with the paper, and some paper comes along grudgingly with the stamp, ruined for the collector’s book.  I really do not care for the philatelist’s tweezer-finesse.  My bulging envelopes of stamps will get glued into books someday, or not, by me or my stamp-admiring children, or not.  What I like most about stamps, after all, are the vivid-color pictures, the oldness of a year or a century, and the idea of the glue that connects me to a million places and people I love, to whom I am thoroughly stuck.

(Pictured above: a small portion of my bulging envelope of unorganized U.S. stamps.)

 

A page from my stamp collecting book.

Flash Flood

Flash floods are among the most thrilling and dangerous experiences in nature.  They appear suddenly.  Their power destroys, then dissipates.  Ruin lies in their wake.  Some of life’s experiences ravage and leave us twisted and torn, as if a flash flood poured through us.  We may feel broken.  We nurse real wounds.  Remember that wounds can heal, if we let them.  Remember that the sun always shines after the rains, the wildflowers bloom beautifully, and the birds sing again.

FLASH FLOOD

rain pounces and stings
thunder bellows
angry
the cold and the wet and the clang
tempt my fears
of cold and wet and clang

sudden rivers choke
the gorge
a momentary roaring rage
soon spent

small birds sing
tentative song
under new sun

 

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Flow

It would be both cliche and passe to suggest that life is like a river: flowing.  But I found myself thinking just this as I sat on the bank of the Provo River as it rushed by, the water high from mountain snow-melt in summer.  Life . . . just . . . flows.  Every aspect of the river’s course deepens the metaphor, and I could not help writing this poem.  I hope you don’t mind my retelling of this ancient idea.

FLOW

the river flows
in deep green channels
in trickling shallows
over glacier-born boulders,
eddies swirl lolling bubbles
cutthroat flit and spawn
willows cling to ragged banks
lodgepoles look over:
the river flows and flows
from mountain snows
to unfathomable seas:
the river flows

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

These Hands

Hands are the perfect metaphor for who we are, what we do, and what we hope to become.  Do I use my hands to lift or to strike down, to caress or to punish, to persuade or to coerce?  My hands with their fingers type the words formed in my mind, spoon soup for a grandmother, and tickle a toddler.  Hands.  Use them for kindness, gentleness, hard work, and love.  And to write a poem.

THESE HANDS

Look at these hands.
My hands.
They tell my life:
in groove and scar and callous;
in a knuckle torn by a chicken house nail;
in railroad lines from a childhood race through a glass door;
in black grease ground into coarse cracks and cuticles;
in blisters and blood on a westward handcart;
at times, thrust hiding in deep but empty pockets.
These hands:
that hold the hopes and dreams of a self-hewn future;
that have sought the secret softness of a soul mate;
that have led trusting toddlers over perilous paths;
that hoisted an enduring ancient from the place of his collapse.
These hands:
that have clasped tightly together in impassioned prayer;
that have suffered the sad sting of punishment;
that have bathed the infant and dressed the dead;
that have hooked a worm and thrown a ball.
These hands:
that have penned a paltry poem;
that have reached for the stars and grasped only earth;
that have blessed the sick and slaughtered swine;
that can seal a man’s fate with a waive and a gavel’s rap.
These hands:
that spared the rod, soothed a crying child, wiped away a tear, smoothed a stray lock;
that once were tiny and tender, that patted Grandpa’s drooping cheeks;
that bestowed a ring and received one in return;
that now are old and gnarled, resting folded and futile in my lap.
Touch my hands with your hands.
Bring my hands to your face, your eyes, your lips.
Feel the coarseness and tenderness of my hands.
Bring your hands to my face, my eyes, my lips.