Sunday, January 17, 2010

Open and Shut

Earlier today, I was playing tennis with my kids at Alta Laguna Park. Suddenly the weather changed, and I felt as if I were in some kind of time warp. We were only an hour or so into our Sunday recreation, when some rain clouds gathered, the temperature dropped, and the place just emptied out. (I know, I know: my friends and family in colder climes are rolling their eyes right now!) The afternoon had barely started when it was rolled up and packed away; the day, compressed.

The day unfurls,
yielding tentative winter sunshine
Tennis players shed layers as they warm up and start to sweat
A child’s birthday party is set up, a riot of shiny balloons
against a milky sky

Mountain bikers speed out on the trails,
then disappear into sagebrush

Then, a change
It looks like rain
Jackets go back on as the tennis players catch a chill
A silvery balloon escapes the remains of the birthday party
and drifts away

The mountain bike riders return in a hurry,
glancing up at the darkening sky
A cold breeze blows
It feels like rain
The day snaps shut


  1. I like this poem a lot because of the slight yet real tension between the pleasant surroundings and a feeling of psychological pressure. (Don't apologize for those California winters! It's great detail in this poem.) I love that silvery balloon escaping, and I remember a film about Andy Warhol and his silver obsession, so there is something creepy and sinister about silver balloons to me. What I value about the poem is this idea that one can live in a place of relative privilege, yet "the day snaps shut." We all know that feeling of forces larger than ourselves at work, a feeling of powerlessness sometimes and frustration. I don't think that means determinism or a fatalistic outlook, as there is always choice in any context. Anyway, I like the visceral aspect of the poem, as one feels the chill, and I like the almost omniscient or panoramic viewpoint.