My mom used to recite this William Carlos Williams’ poem when she wanted to shrug off an indulgence:
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
William Carlos Williams
“This is just to say”, my mom would begin, as she cut herself a slice of dense sour cream chocolate cake covered with thick fudge frosting that we could peel off and eat in slabs.
“So sweet/and so cold”, I would finish, reaching around her to sliver off my own corner of the cake we had made together. We would grin at each other while we licked our fingers.
That moment was that cake and that poem and my childhood.
Meanwhile, cynics complain that William Carlos Williams didn’t give us a proper poem.
Why doesn’t it rhyme? they whine. What does it mean? Their shallow hearts yearn for the comforting da DUM da DUM of an iambic pentameter marching lockstep through the stanzas.
Other readers, carefully trained English majors for example, might interpret “This is Just to Say” as a retelling of the fall of Eden. They can cluck and tsk, while underlining and annotating and bemoaning Eve’s lack of self control.
And that’s fine. God forbid I criticize an English major, or, for that matter, a biblical reference.
Some people need rules. Some people need rhymes to make a poem, and trees packed with enough forbidden fruit and serpents and guilt to balance any pleasure they allow themselves.
But they are missing the point. We are more than that what we seem, and more than what we should and shouldn’t do.
“This is Just to Say” is more than a poem that forgot to rhyme.
Aren’t we all?
It is a confession sloppily scrawled in pencil on a scrap of junk mail and stuck to a refrigerator.
It’s about the honesty of taking what you want. About asking your family’s forgiveness for the person you have become. About the courage of trusting they will grant it.
It’s a moment.
It’s a poem.
It’s nothing. It’s everything.
Aren’t we all?
In this blog, I write about moments–experiences with my family, encounters while traveling, brief instances of clarity that hit sometimes in the shower.
The entries are confessions, complaints and celebrations. Hopefully some of them are more than what they seem. Mostly, I hope all of them are honest, because that’s the hardest part.
Thanks for coming. Enjoy your stay.