“And as in Alice” by Mary Jo Bang

Alice cannot be in the poem, she says, because
She’s only a metaphor for childhood
And a poem is a metaphor already
So we’d only have a metaphor

Inside a metaphor. Do you see?
They all nod. They see. Except for the girl
With her head in the rabbit hole. From this vantage,
Her bum looks like the flattened backside

Of a black and white panda. She actually has one
In the crook of her arm.
Of course it’s stuffed and not living.
Who would dare hold a real bear so near the outer ear?

She’s wondering what possible harm might come to her
If she fell all the way down the dark she’s looking through.
Would strange creatures sing songs
Where odd syllables came to a sibilant end at the end.

Perhaps the sounds would be a form of light hissing.
Like when a walrus blows air
Through two fractured front teeth. Perhaps it would
Take the form of a snake. But if a snake, it would need a tree.

Could she grow one from seed? Could one make a cat?
Make it sit on a branch and fade away again
The moment you told it that the rude noise it was hearing was
rational thought
With an axe beating on the forest door

http://www.poetrymagazine.org/magazine/1007/poem_180074.html

Alice cannot be in the poem because she is not Alice but a mere metaphor.A metaphor for childhood. The problem is that the poem is itself a metaphor.So we have a metaphor within a metaphor.The problem is that a childhood is a metaphor for the beginning of life. So we have a metaphor within a metaphor within a metaphor etc., etc,.They all nod in agreement.They see but not the girl who has her head in the rabbit hole from whose vantage she sees her bum as a flattened backside of a black and white panda.The girl has a stuffed panda in the crook of her arm.If she falls in the abyss of the dark ,how would it feel like? She will hear strange creatures singing songs where odd syllables come to a sibilant end at the end.

Everything is like it was in that Alice.In that song .Odd syllables come to a sibilant end at the end.The sounds would be in the form of light hissing. Again a metaphor ? Another one within the Big Metaphor. The sounds would be a form of light hissing. Like a walrus blows air through two broken teeth. Or may be it would take the form of a snake , in which case it would need a tree. My God ,when will metaphors end and life begin?

There is confusion about what is it that all these are metaphors of . Let us therefore stop with that Alice and not unduly worry about this one,which is a metaphor.

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