Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 4: Fractals, Friends, and New Poem

I love fractals.  The idea of fractals.  Fractals in nature.  For those of you who don't know what a fractal is, it is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole..."  That's the definition from Wikipedia.  I find the best way to understand a fractal is to look at pictures of them.  Here you go:

The reason I'm talking about fractals is because you have to understand the concept in order to really get the poem for today.  I started writing this poem while I was waiting to meet with my friend to give her the birthday story I wrote for her.  She loved the story, since no cocker spaniels were harmed in its writing. 

Since the story I wrote was, in essence, about sorrow, this poem is about the recursive power of sorrow, its fractal-ness, if you will.  Hold onto your hats, because, in some ways, it's another language poem.  I don't know why I'm suddenly writing language poems, but it's always good to push yourself.

Now, after your lesson on fractals, I think you're ready to read the poem.  Think of it as an M. C. Escher poem.  That may help.

Saint Marty now presents a little fractal of verse.

Fractally Speaking

I give my friend a bag of sorrow
For her birthday, infinitely green
As forest moss, filled with the kind
Of chocolate truffles I gave my wife
On our last anniversary, dark, bitter
Cocoa my mother dusted on her
Brownies made from my grandmother’s recipe
The autumn after she died under
An August sun.  Blood vessel burst
In her brain as she watered
Her garden, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes
My father couldn’t get to ripen
In cold, Michigan August, bending
Instead to grass, dirt, to killing
Moisture and worm, turning soft, black
Coat I wore to a friend’s wake
Where people hung at the bar,
Drank whiskey, stout, talked about
How she could drink any of us under
The kitchen table with an empty cookie plate,
A note to Santa from my daughter
Saying, I don’t believe in you any more,
But I want a laptop and cell phone and
All these fractals of loss, of tears,
Tiny as paper cuts, large as tsunamis,
Recursive snowflake and coastline
Reflections of all the times I’ve sat,
Listened to my hollow chest
Ring like a church bell tolling Angelus,
I give it to my friend today,
Hope she knows where to plant this birthday
Gift so next spring it will sprout into
Cauliflower and crystal, lightning and broccoli.

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