September 16, 2006

New Poem

I was inspired last night, by the word "flea" which I came across in a book somewhere. It just popped out at me, and this poem was born. It is, by the way, an almost entirely true story. What is or might not be true is the exact age of the sweaters, which could well be older than 50. The tags that were still on the garments gave the price. The question is, when did a fine cashmere sweater originally cost $16-18 when new? Does anyone know? Anyhow, it's all a big metaphor in any event...But the last two words are meant to be ambiguous, keep that in mind. Who or what do they refer to?

Oh, by the way, people, LISTEN: I made the same mistake everyone does. I mixed up metaphor and simile! So this is a correction: A simile uses like or as and a metaphor does NOT. Remember aS = Simile whereas there is no "as" or "like" in metaphor. Damn! I swore I would get those straight and I went ahead and forgot to check up on myself. Oh well, as I've said before and will likely have to say again, or eat crow, Even Homer nods. (Not that I'm Homer, mind you. But I like the expression for its bombastic grandiosity.) I repeat: "Your similes are like gourmet meals to me" = a simile. But "Metaphors are the three squares a day of poetry" = a metaphor. Got it? I hope I finally do. Forthwith, the poem:


Homemaker turned friend, on a Saturday
Mid-spring, sprang me from my apartment
And we were off to the flea for the bargains.
Jo headed for the “new stuff,” all oil-based
Fabrics in cut-rate, designer knock-offs
While I cast my eyes over what had aged

Into sepia, rounded or paintless with love and use,
Hoping for antiques on sale by the unwitting, fair
For not knowing priceless from worthless myself
Except in the matter of three women’s sweaters,
New --tags still on -- in navy, ash and sand
Under a sign that read: CLASSIC CASHMERE $5.

Why cashmere sweaters at that price
Still unsold if there wasn’t a mortal catch?
Was made in the 1950s in 2006 too mortal for me?
Well, were there holes? were they coming apart
At the seams? was the style dowdy or old-fashioned?
Taking last first, he pattered: Classic

Means classic; you could wear these any year
And never look out of place. Test them yourself. Pull
At them. They won’t even stretch, those seams.
And no holes. Okay, you found a tiny one
In the sand-colored arm? It can be repaired.
You see, pristine condition, almost. And only $5 each.

I tell you, it offended me how flea-goers shunned
1950s cashmere, so valued and precious
When new a sweater might cost hundreds of dollars
Yet 50 years old, like many of us, in almost
But not quite, pristine condition, no one wanted
Those gals, not even at flea market prices.

I fell for the sweaters, bought all of them --
Navy and ash pullovers, the sand-colored cardigan
And brought them home. Now that we survived
The steams and storms of peach season, it’s all apples
Finally. I need a sweater mornings, comfort
in cashmere, 50-something, same as I, a classic.

Posted by pamwagg at September 16, 2006 05:43 PM


Pam, I especially like the deft ending of this poem. I confess that I miss the (so nicely put!) "steams and storms of peach season"; I'm not ready for all apples! I do identify with those sweaters, particularly the one with the little tear, but have not yet achieved your reconciled stance; I mourn even the contributing goats, whom, I fear, are dead.

Posted by: Cynthia at September 17, 2006 09:22 PM

I really enjoyed this poem. Why reject something or someone for their age or for a tiny flaw right? You might just find a diamond in the rough.

Posted by: Heather at September 17, 2006 05:43 PM

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