Between living and dreaming
there is a third thing.
— Antonio Machado
I look at this quote and see much of the poetic craft summed up in it.
There is the living of everyday life – work, chores, relationships, food, tying your shoelaces – all the things that make up routine, the background to who we are.
Then there’s dreaming – both the idealizing of the future as well as the literal act of what is seen when we sleep. The unspoken times.
Between these two things – the background and the unspoken – we do our best to do the guessing that Machado encourages.
In the poem below, Jay Leeming takes an everyday thing – in this case, an apple – and pushes it into dream. The image of the apple’s core as a “little room” is a guess towards what the act of eating an apple suggests beyond the everyday. You get the usual connotations of Adam and Eve, the Fall – but there’s something more to it.
The turn for me here is at the end, how the poem leaves you with enough image to keep on talking inside of you. Just watch what happens when you get to the powerful compound word “tear-shaped.”
Apple – Jay Leeming **
Sometimes when eating an apple
I bite too far
and open the little room
the lovers have prepared,
and the seeds fall
onto the kitchen floor
and I see
that they are tear-shaped.
p.s. Jay Leeming is also the editor of Rowboat: Poetry in Translation, a great journal you can find out more about here.
* photo found here.
** published in the book Dynamite on a China Plate, The Backwaters Press.