"Grass Between Us (With No Alarm)", 29 September 2017

Of three poetry submissions to CWC's 2019 competition, "Grass Between Us"  didn't make it. Inspired by recent events in my brother's life, I reflect on the parental compromise between waking a child and letting him sleep. I lament the loss of the natural and question the importance of plans that ask us to sacrifice our fundamental needs. 

The poem opens with a childhood memory of closing the curtains to let my brother sleep:

I pit my love against the sun,

Stole inside his room to draw

The blinds,

which sunlight beat instead upon.

I still recall my sympathetic yawn

Above his peaceful face, that's dreaming on.

 

A formal structure wasn't appropriate for the message of the poem, but the point is supported structurally by a garden of smaller details. In these lines, the capitalization of the enjambment ("The blinds") and the lower-case next line embody the curtains, which draw the sunlight to themselves and create shade for those next-in-line. Any good older brother is like a set of curtains; this nostalgia of protectiveness happily recalls a time when I had the power to keep Barry safe. Later in the poem, the calendric claustrophobia of adult responsibilities becomes tangible in a relentless rhyme scheme.

Then, after Barry's imagined death at the hands of business, the structure frees up. The poem concludes (see picture) on an ironic repetition, echoing the calendar. But this final say, the final alarm, is death itself, reminding us that in the end, we were human all along. We should remember this as we plan our days and years.