Teaching Metaphor Beneath New Knowledge
By Allison Gruber
The spires on The Empire State Building
could dock zeppelins, in fact,
were intended to. I know this now and
imagine a past-future idea of a city
where backs could bend, faces tip
toward the tops of buildings and notice the distance
between themselves and the sky interrupted,
blotted by airships floating from buildings
like balloons by strings in the fists of children.
The sun is a goldfish, I proclaim
knowing that to speak of metaphors
is to speak of the absence that must be
in order to bring two things closer.
My young students laugh,
No it’s not. No it’s not.
They insist that the sun
is not a goldfish.
But when the technique is explained,
when they are given permission
to remove the little middle men,
their brains giddily embrace this lunacy—
easily dismiss every “like,”
easily dismiss each “as.”
They become light and genius
and I think of The Hindenburg,
of men impossibly grounded reeling in
a giant fish, a catch from the sky
not expecting the gash of fire
that would burn the belly, the body to latticed bone,
a well-rounded skeleton yielding easily
to the law of collapse.