extended metaphors and empathetic laughter

shutterstock_100507999I glance at the kitchen clock. It’s past midnight and I’m alone, reminiscing about the old days when the hum and click-clack of my typewriter provided a bit of company. Now all I hear are driving rain and vehement claps of thunder after each flash of lightening that fractures the starless sky. Once again, there’s a chill in the air.

How could it be just a few hours earlier, I’d strolled through fragrant, sun-drenched streets festooned with azaleas, dogwood and magnolia blossoms?

Simple answer: It’s April––that irrational month which feels like an extended metaphor for life. Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose own circumstances and temperament were every bit as capricious and bittersweet, illuminated this parallel through the desperate humor of this poem:


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
                                                         — Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1921
In other words, my friend, you’re not alone. Arbitrary April dupes us all. Should this tug of war leave you out of sorts, remember it lasts only thirty days . . .  and we can amble through them hand in hand.

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