pilfer: to lift, to rob, to shift, to guide the river to the sea

Poet’s Helper: What are you reading?

The Lemon Tree, a Gandhi bio, and When the Crocodile Eats the Tiger Lily. I misread while reading and now I am thinking: a pilfered fence. What could that be?

Poet’s Helper: Depends on what’s inside the fence.

Depends on what sort of fencer you are. Some people fence to keep things out.

Poet’s Helper: If you’re keeping things out something is being protected inside.

Cabbage and sweet corn, probably.

Poet’s Helper: There you go again. More corn. Maybe put them inside the poem, too. Or maybe that’s corny.

But, the cabbage-loving girl doesn’t know how to grow her own cabbage. She only knows how to pilfer fence lines.

Poet’s Helper: Pilfer means to steal a little bit at a time. Looked it up. So, pilfer fence lines really means to steal from behind them.

. . . an inside job?

Poet’s Helper: Yeah. It’s a poem. A sidling-along-the-fence job.

So, she becomes a fence robber. A fence lifter. A line mover . . . . But in her head she thinks she is a fence shifter.

Poet’s Helper: A different kind of surveyor.

She thinks: If you look at the line a fence runs, it follows some unnatural latitude that conflicts with the natural lay of the land.

Poet’s Helper: Or maybe it’s just not straight. Maybe it’s perpendicular to the latitude? Maybe that’s a good thing.

Naw, “Perpendicular to the latitude”  would be longitude . . . just a latitude by another name. She was hoping for a fence that if given its head would run wild.

Poet’s Helper: “Latitude as longitude by another name” sounds like the heart of the poem. Neither are real.

So . . . what starts out as “pilfered” becomes a fence running along a river’s line, escorting it to the sea.

Poet’s Helper: This fence sure moves around a lot. Is that a fence run wild?

Uh…a fence born free. (Ugh!)

Poet’s Helper: Maybe I like “original pilfered fence” idea the best.

The less said the better, right. To say”pilfered fence” invites the spirit to come play.  Case in point: this exchange.

Poet’s Helper: Yeah. Don’t mosey too far away from it.

Pilfered fence as shadow: the reader can create the reality that casts it. But if reader wears concrete shoes, reader says, “But fences cannot pilfer.”

Poet’s Helper: People who wear concrete shoes can’t swim either.

People in concrete shoes make sure to wear cute bikinis.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

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