It’s funny how a little shift in perspective can make the ordinary seem not-so. In preparation for my impending trip to Korea, I got a new camera. Of course I had to road-test it a little to make sure I knew how to use it. And looking at familiar little things around my neighborhood through the LCD screen makes me notice details I would normally tune out — the last scraggly brown leaves on the trees, the odd green color of the railing on the bridge over a little creek, a beer bottle caught against the rocks in the current.
I wonder what Korea will look like to me. The only other time I’ve ever been outside the country (Greece, 1997), I remember how even the most mundane stuff took on a surreal quality because the cultural filter was so different. Billboards, TV, menus, conversations I overheard in shops and on the street… since I couldn’t understand the language, what drew my attention were details of shape and color, sound and movement, facial expressions and gestures. Nuances that would normally be lost since I’d be focused on the meaning of what was being said, if I were even paying attention at all.
That’s the idea that drew me to this poem. I love how well it captures the sensation of the familiar rendered bizarre, as well as the idea that sometimes you need to change your point of view to truly see. Here’s “Waving Goodbye” by Elizabeth Spires:
The world bends us to its purpose.
In the public gardens, we found
a “gazing globe” balanced
on a waist-high pedestal,
a silver ball a foot in circumference,
reflecting sky and ground,
ourselves as we stood above it.
We stared into its depths,
as in a crystal ball,
our faces large and wild,
arms and legs unnaturally small,
as if a spell were on the world,
or, finally, we clearly saw the world
for what it was: too brightly
shining, circular, unadorned.
Please click here to read the rest.
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Holly Cupala is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Round-up at her blog, Brimstone Soup.
(How much do I love that blog name? A LOT. Seriously, I am so jealous she thought of it and I didn’t. I’m trying to be cool about it here, but I WANT IT. Jules, I think we should steal it. “Seven Impossible Bowls of Brimstone Soup Before Breakfast.” Yes? Yesss. HOLLY, WATCH YOUR BACK. Just sayin’.)