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How to Find Poetry in Objects

All Things Hold Poetry

By Stevi-Lee AlverPublished 5 months ago 7 min read
How to Find Poetry in Objects
Photo by Minna Autio on Unsplash

Dear Backpack,

It's been a while. I'm writing you now to see how you're holding up. More so now than ever before, poetry is the only form of madness that renders me sane. Below is our past, as I recall. Perhaps your memory is in better shape. I thought you could help keep me honest.

Nostalgic Sunday: smooth and warm. A flask of thoughts, impressions of coffee and gravy. Stir in this direction, she said, grabbing the tattered handle of the fractured wooden spoon. Can you see those copper veins pulsing flavour into the brown? The spoon hovered, from her upturned fist. Her own veins stood to attention, cobalt and narrow, and hard to ignore. The spoon, suspended mid-air, essentially an extension of the hand holding it, twitching, and dipping, as though divining for water. A dash of desire blossomed in her gaze, a craving of distinction, somewhere between taste and texture.

Pop’s laughter: the only essential variable. Certain tones hammered in space and time, bumpy and metal and powder-coated-khaki green. Beating out the rhythm of reality. Perhaps, you said. Perhaps a vision is a drum, perhaps an image is a weapon, perhaps there is something more to be remembered. Do you remember the roasted scent wafting from his hammertone flask, the dunking and the munching… the capacity of perfect belonging... the sense of perfection embodied in an instant... the scent of perfection, drifting on the air we breathed... do you have the same coffee-flavoured memories, framed in brown-soaked oats?

Pop’s backpack: pork pies and hankies. Who knows whether the image was the object or the object was the process of imagining… from Pop’s backpack, I spill out the contents of my memory. Do you remember those days, when Kings Park was tinted green, like a shade of cutgrass smudged into a heartbeat, an unravelling of thumbprints and applause? Afternoons blending into powder-blue hues of evening and twilight, each day unravelling like a kind of measurement, a kind of counting… can you still feel the smell of faded labels and folded passes?

Windows of sunlight: silver stands and sunlit faces. There are images, you said, that remain with us forever. I thought of mysterious imprints painting the themes of being. I thought of the colour of air. I thought of a single object grasping at a lifetime of memories. Do you remember the contour, the frayed outline, the sun-bleached Caribee? What is more tangible than a backpack, a brown-bordered hanky or an oversized cap? How come the backpack is accessible, I asked. Perhaps, you said, because the backpack can be opened.

Sports carnivals: grass clippings on an open breeze. A purplish-grey tartan rug on a hill, the soft incline and hands of experience. Waving and cheering, my grandparents with their Stanley flask and their wicker picnic and the Caribee backpack. What if every outer limit curled up and folded inward, I wondered and ran my finger along the smooth underbelly of something mustard. As I sat between my grandparents, a sense of Gaelic settled around me. A sudden awareness of kilts and bagpipes.

Puzzled reminiscence: a form of history in motion. A form of golden bronze. A glimmer of memories taking shape and the sun, reflecting off Pop’s hatchback, parked somewhere in the distance. A sudden smack, oxidised, metallic on my tongue. Petroleum veins coughing and spluttering.

Membership tickets: long legs and stripes. The crucial junction, the backpack must be studied, you warned, before it can be opened. The purpose of a backpack: to carry and prevent crushing. Certain thoughts carry inside them the precise instant of their own death. Relating to people, the crushing is the calculation of a gasping embrace. What do you see? Once open, I see alleyways and backstreets and a red pocketknife. I see a map in the lines of a cherished, gentle face. I see a child: age, irrelevant. I see existence in reach of the moments gathering within.

Sheepskin voyage: black windows and relatives. The hatchback: a memory that takes one places. Another object which carries and prevents crushing. The hatchback: smooth handles and walking sticks. Silver and gold beetles and everything between. Pin down a notion, dust off the mantelpiece, store an old smell in a new jar.

The crushing: left nothing as it was. The rush, after his death, to pack up his possessions… to heave and to haul, to push them away… it was what she wanted: tears wrenched from her rigid face. A wardrobe: to hold and prevent crushing. Do you remember those ornate brass handles, the grasp of solid cold, the pulling, the opening? There it was—inside—the backpack. Hands of youth, fumbling within, drew out the crumpled hat. A colourless breath of generous impressions. The watermarks of existence: the transparent patterns of a lifetime of memories stored within a backpack.

Corroded Sunday: the ash-stained sepia veins of grief. I can almost feel the dappled sunlight on our backs, as we peddled ahead. Do you remember the rock, steel and timber? Ritualistic train lines and dolomite rewards, the sound of crunching beneath sandshoes and rubber. The destination: between crinkle cut and atomic tomato, something about crisps and heavy pockets, full of dialogue. The aroma of pinecones and exhaust fumes? Rustic wasn’t a word we used. Vintage, maybe. Do you cherish the same fairy-floss pink, candy flavoured memories of laughter and lollies, sherbet sunlight and effervescent shade?

Rusted hooks: mottled and flaking. A box of secrets: desert-sand brown and pale mustard, the currents of salty marsh and moonlight, shimmering gills and blunt blades. A box in the sand. A tackle box: to carry and prevent catching. A birdsnest of line. Something white and slimy on a hook. Something biting… and what of those riverside times, Pop’s back turned to the wind. Don’t cross in wellingtons, he said. They fill with water. And you can never escape.

Imperial leather: bergamot green, citrus and spice. Long horse-hair bristles and something collectable about the mahogany handle. The lather always thick and silky. Short stubble and razor blades. The smell of sublimation: sandalwood and cinnamon, musk and moss. Do you remember the geranium and lavender in the freezer? Frozen burgundy, ruby, violent wine, a silver mist trapped in a lilac scent. There is a form of beauty, you said, that can withstand the harshest conditions.

The catching: murky and flashing chrome. Pop’s blue backpack and his lozenges tin, the one holding barbed hooks. Little symbols of wildness and survival. Little shining instances, defining curves in a flat scene. The water was always naked, its skin the colour of old two-cent coins. Whole days came and went with a sense of snatching. Lifting rocks, catching little crabs, the same colour as the muddy banks. A piercing or a stabbing, little brown legs writhing on hooks. The rocks, like the rest of the scenery, were grey and brown. Mustard was the colour of the box. Mustard was the brand of hooks. Rusted were our fears, our mother’s eyes and Pop’s old tin.

Dinner drifting: ambition and climbing. Tiny, transparent-blue flowers on white cups. Antique gentrified corroded silver. Sometimes my dreams are drenched in an odd tone: the colour of old teaspoons, the flavour of raw sugar. Once I had a dream inside another dream and it was the hue of water dressed in brown. A type of tannin, the flavour of a flask full of Tetley. A glass sauce bottle, either tomato or worcestershire, full of fresh milk.

The snatching: a lazy form of violence. Try not to stuff the scene inside the object, for there exists a certain process of arriving. An inpatient orange smeared on a chin. Bolognaise watermark, the colour of Pop’s nicotine stained fingers. At once the image appears like an object placed on the widow seal. Try to pinch lightly at the heart of things. The colour of glass has a way of moving, of gliding, of hovering before dropping into place.

Sugar-coated beetles: step back, take a closer look. Do you remember the frisbee, Coca-Cola, red and white. The flick of a wrist, the release, the soaring and the freedom of backyards? Do you remember how eyes narrowed and lips pursed and pasta hung and wriggled like worms, sliced in half? Can you still hear the sound of sucking and slurping? There was some relevance, the lemon light of the crystal, or was it a slippery means to an end? What else are we to make of sugar-syrup dreaming?

Hope you are well,

Poetry Within

Stevi-Lee Alver is an Australian writer and tattoo artist. She lives in the middle of Brazil with her wife. She loves bush walks and waterfalls but misses the ocean.

surreal poetrysocial commentarysad poetryinspirationalhow toheartbreakfact or fiction

About the Creator

Stevi-Lee Alver

Australian writer and tattoo artist based in Brazil. 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈

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