Context and Confessional Poetry

by Elizabeth R. McClellan

I like babies and little kids, more than some people

but goddamn, children's laughter out of nowhere

(in the night, when you're not expecting it) is creepy.

I don't like slugs smeared like nightmare goo on my

summer-bare feet, I could do without them in

my cat food and roses.  Slugs will eat almost any

vegetation; if I knew their metaphor for plant perfection,

I could cultivate it, broker a treaty maybe,

bargain with rampion like Rapunzel in reverse

but I don't speak slug, so I squeal, and wear sandals

when it rains.  Lately I have been thinking

about context, the background, the presumptions

and near-silence on which we build a world.  Children laugh

at inappropriate times and don't understand why

they shouldn't tell jokes about Beethoven decomposing

during a funeral visitation, or how the sound

of their giggles echoing in enclosed spaces at ten minutes

til midnight is off-putting.  For that matter,

the slugs probably don't enjoy dying on my carport

in puddles of rain, without ever reaching the earthly delights

of kibble,  the rosebush that only gets enough sun

on the right side.  I justify this because I don't enjoy it either;

I justify my spine-tingling tension at youthful voices because

my older sister used to make me watch movies she was scared of,

which in retrospect I don't regret, but hasn't helped

my paranoia of things out of context: topiary animals,

stray balloons, mismatched architectural details, frogs out of water


I'm sorry I stepped on you, I'm sorry I hated you for laughing.