Poetry Friday: Er, well….me, it seems

I’ve had a good run with Poetry Friday, but I’ve lost some steam recently.  It’s hard to scrounge up poetry, no matter the source, and the last few weeks at work have taken enough out of me that I haven’t been ready with anything, each Friday.  Today, realizing I’d come to yet another Friday without a poem, and not having the energy to try and unearth something from the year of my current novel, I’ve bailed out to what I’ve always considered my last resort: a poem of my own.  I’ve intentionally chosen something I’ve never done at any reading (that I can recall), something that I’d be open to tinkering with, and something that may well not be very good (we’ll see how you take it).  Maybe more importantly, it’s something that I think might provoke a little discussion—what do you think it’s about?  What am I saying?  Because I won’t tell you what I think of this one…not until you comment and we have a conversation to engage in.  (I thought about adding commentary, but posting your own poem unasked-for, and then, on top of that, your literary analysis of your own poem really sounds too self-indulgent even for me, and I’m a literary blogger who only reads award-winners.)

So, here it is, a brief and untitled work—I hope it’s a nice addition to your weekend, and that if you have thoughts or questions about it, you share them:

The fireplace has a square little door to the left of it
in the lamp-lit living room
of my parents’ house.
Winter evenings, I’d huddle cozied
there by the flames
and wonder what rich rooms, what worlds
awaited me if I opened the door
and followed the path behind it.
I never opened that door.


7 comments on “Poetry Friday: Er, well….me, it seems

  1. Shane says:

    I like the poem.
    I remember that door at your parents house.
    I remember doors like that in my own life, I opened some of them. But I was usually too afraid to go too far into them, and it was usually dirty.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Thanks, Shane! One of the reasons this poem has survived (and that I was willing to post it) was some encouraging commentary you and Graham gave regarding it a couple of years back. 🙂

  2. Bonnie says:

    It made me think of Schroedinger’s cat. Anything could be behind that door, good or bad, and until you open the door and find out, it’s filled with infinite possibility. But once you open the door and see, all that’s behind it is what’s behind it, and that infinite possibility is gone.

    I don’t know if I’m getting at the right idea, because it’s such a cozy poem–even the sounds of it on the tongue are cozy–but that idea is kind of a depressing one, which doesn’t fit with the coziness…so again, I’m probably incorrect in my interpretation.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      I wouldn’t say you’re incorrect at all! The depression can be seen to fit with the coziness, I think, if we read it this way—part of the reason the door remains unopened is because it can be fantastical (and therefore cozy or comforting) while it remains unknown. In fact, even if what’s behind the door is wondrous, it can in some ways be more wondrous unopened because it can be any wonderful thing, and not a specific wonderful thing.

      Of course, the inverse of that is that something that can be every wonderful thing is, in fact, less wondrous than something that is specifically wonderful. Or even specifically not-so-wonderful. There’s a give and take with this, I guess: exploration makes the world less exciting in some ways, and more in others. Both the things you see can be there in the poem because they’re both there in real life.

      In all honesty, I’m not sure if I was more focused on the positive or the negative when I wrote the poem. As I read it now, I think it feels negative—the poem thinks I should have opened the door—but if I had, I think of all the dreams I had about it that I never would have allowed myself to have. A little knowledge, as they say, can be a dangerous thing. 🙂 I think the ambiguity of the image appeals to me, on a poetic level, but I’ll admit you’re right that the poem’s tone and message may be at cross-purposes. I don’t know how I would alter that, personally, although I think it would be easy to slant, either one way or the other.

  3. […] Do we see ourselves opening the door we did not open (an image that resonates enough with me that I wrote a poem about it, although not consciously in homage to Eliot)—if we see that, who is it we see?  Where is […]

  4. SilverSeason says:

    I’ve tried to be more silent here — a lurker — as I work my way through your Poetry Fridays, back to front.

    I know that door. My parents’ living room had a similar one, next to the stone fireplace. They kept it locked, probably to keep kids from crawling in and out. I did know what was supposed to be there because I asked. The purpose was to hold the cut logs for the fireplace but with work, a house, a yard, a Victory garden, four kids and a dog, my parents did not usually have time for such an organized approach. The logs lay on the side porch and we dragged them in through the living room, making a holy mess sometimes. Later, during my brothers’ high school years, my father unlocked the door and they threw excess athletic equipment in there: old football helmets, broken tennis rackets, unidentified parts. Later, when we were all gone from home, my father installed a convenient two-drawer file cabinet for his papers. Call this the evolution of a log chamber.

    And your poem. I like it, partly for personal reasons because of the memories it evokes, but more because of its tone. The tone is warm, intimate, I don’t sense any danger. If it is the road not taken, you did not take it because you were secure where you were and wanted to stay. Now it is gone, not only the opportunity to open the door, but the secure world that offered it.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the poetry—you should always feel free to speak up, though! Even years later, I appreciate hearing people react to poetry that’s been posted. Although I certainly lurk frequently myself, on plenty of blogs. 🙂

      I’m very glad for your thoughts on this—the experiences you share, which more or less match mine (though I don’t recall that we ever got around to using the little storage space for anything other than lumber…it just remained unused). And your reflections about security and opportunity are very illuminating for me, and help me to understand some elements of what I was trying to say to myself in the poem. Thank you!

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