What We Expect Of The Poet: Something Interesting (2015-07-20)
IV. One Sunny Afternoon In Early September
One sunny afternoon in early September I took my son walking in the woods. I wanted to find a perfect spruce tree, one about six or seven feet tall with branches evenly developed all the way around the trunk. My intention was to dig up this ideal tree, once I found it, and bring it home to transplant outside our dining room window.
The boreal woodland near our home is largely comprised of spruce trees - there are millions of them within driving distance from our house - but we weren't having any luck in finding this perfectly rounded tree I could so easily visualize. The problem was that we were walking along a tangled, overgrown path in the very heart of the bush, and where the forest is so thick, the spruce trees tend to grow too closely together, thus failing to develop evenly on all sides. A far better place to look for a perfect spruce would be in an open meadow or a gravel pit, some place where a tree might grow alone, uncrowded, out in the open.
My son, being only eight at the time and very fond of the bush, didn't especially care that we weren't having any success, but nevertheless I felt I should explain it to him. After I finished my explanation he looked at me curiously and inquired why then we were still searching in the forest. I said: "Because there are so many spruce trees around here, I can't help but think there must be a perfect one around here somewhere."
After a couple of hours more we gave up and came home. The Other Poet was sitting on my front porch when we drove up. I told him all about what we'd been doing, and why it was so futile. He said: "I guess spruce trees are like poets."
My son looked at him for a moment and then said: "That's silly. Spruce trees don't walk in the woods looking for perfect poets." Then my son went into the house to get himself a Coke.
(Excerpt from “The Art Of Prosody” chapter of my book Cold Pigging Poetics)