Bouncing Off

Bouncing off what someone else has written can be an exciting way to inspire a poem. I love what Kris Kaila has done in “Bearing Witness”. She begins by quoting Maya Angelou who wants her life to be “a poetic existence”. What a lovely thought! Angelou defines it as her being responsible for “the air I / Breathe and the space I take up”.

Kaila too would like her life to be a “poetic existence” and dreams of her mother’s fig tree. But instead of Angelou’s taking care of her inner and immediate spaces, with a delightful twist Kaila defines hers in startlingly physical terms, as if her body parts are being pulled from the inside out:
          I write about the way my heart
          rolls down to my sleeve;
          it lives on the outside
          beating on top of the vein
          that makes my ring finger twitch
          when I forget to breathe,….”

She continues this unique extended metaphor until

          …Pour, no
          spill, yourself into the space. It’s okay
          to be outside the lines…”

Looking back up the poem, even the title suggests a potential pun, “Bearing” subtly echoing “baring” as the insides flow over. Where Angelou was conservative, Kaila is exuberant.

Such a delight! But best to enjoy this vivid and witty poem in its entirety. It’s posted on The League of Canadian Poets’ Poetry Pause archived web page at: