cleaning both sides
of the sliding glass door–
On a literal sense, its horizontal (surface meaning) axis, we have a clear setting up of imagery, with the author both indoors yet outdoors: He's able to hear birdsong because he's opened up the sliding doors for a regular clean up.
In a metaphorical level we probably have various layers of meaning in the vertical axis yet my first reading is as clear as he's making those glass doors. The author has shifted his perception from an internal mental or work attitude, and pushed the sliding door(s) open to hear and experience the world beyond his everyday existance.
I love the physicality and sensory character of this work by Brad Bennett.
Having cleaned my share of glass sliding doors, the poem immediately brought to mind past encounters with the vast expanse of glass. Armed with Windex spray and paper towels, the task is approached with large sweeping wipes alternating with smaller circles. I wonder if the poet sees the birdlike character of those arm movements – like flapping of wings?
The more I think about the experiences, my memories become sharper, clearer and images crystallize as if wiping away a layer of mental grime: the act of breathing onto a patch of almost-clean glass and creating a condensation fog, then briskly finishing it off, I hear the clean glass window begin to sing… or is that birdsong?
Rereading the poem again, with these new images fresh in mind, I put a mental comma after the first word, "cleaning", because now both sides of the sliding glass window I hear birdsong.
And I am struck that sitting inside, looking out through that now almost invisible glass, I am still actually the one in a cage.
A wonderful poem evoking a wonderful set of experiential memories, as well as prompting existential contemplation. Brilliant!
The author seems to be poised at a point exactly half way between the indoor and outdoor world. I imagine him with a cleaning cloth in each hand, making circles on the glass on each side, perhaps singing along with the birds who are close by. Nice. :)
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