Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sand it back

(based on suggestions from @twitofalili, @matchtrick, @anitranot channeled by @TheEndeavour, and most importantly @ernmalleyscat)

We stuck to our inheritance like flypaper.

You, big pigtails; the brat fury genius.

Me, little shoulders; the red hot scientist.

Our new/old home is slender, likes flowers.

House, how do you like your blue-eyed boy,

your sweet-limbed girl? We are grown: up.

Thirty years & well more thirty centimetres

We are drawn to this picket fence to parry,

dodge ourselves & fuse like double-sided tape.

The same argument, this time we stick it

like a gymnast. Take the paint off, sand it back

to bare solar systems of earth & crust.

Solid siblings pause: our arms. Are still.

We have ground back the years

to stand. Eyes lick the door frame.

Our heights, ground pencil against the grain,

the space of our years is a well-kerned paragraph.

Me & you; sister & brother; X & Y.

Once briefly the same height,

for a month we shared an ampersand.


Today's poem is based on suggestions from four peeps:

  • @twitofalili: "Ampersands and double-sided stickytape!"
  • @matchtrick: "The Solar System. Hot scientists. e e cummings"
  • @anitranot, channeled via @TheEndeavour: "if you get the word 'kerning' in, @anitranot would be very impressed."

And finally, this very special suggestion from @ernmalleyscat, who has had the idea head-floating for 10 years but never put it into writing, and so has given it to me. I am a bit honoured as it is lovely. I hope I have done it justice:

  • @ernmalleyscat: "Renovating the house you grew up in and finding pencil height marks under layers of paint on door jambs."
Lines 1 and 2 of the second stanza are taken from two of my favourite e.e. cummings poems, Suppose and Buffalo Bill.

Kerning is the process of adjusting the space between characters, usually to make it visually pleasing. A well-kerned sentence looks nice. It's relative to the character pairs in the word, because every letter has different slopes and takes up a different amount of space (Capital I vs. capital V for example). Have a look at the Wikipedia picture as it's easier than me explaining in too many words. A picture is worth a thousand proverbials. A pretty girl who naked is is worth a million statues*

*that's e. e. cummings again.


ern malleys cat said...

Justice indeed. Thank you, it's wonderful.
'ground pencil against the grain' is a perfect memory.
Amazingly, my sister has written about other aspects of the old house.
The designer/typographer in me appreciates the kerning too.

Anna said...

I'm so glad you liked it. I'm an only child, so imagining a sibling took a bit of thought.
Thanks for trusting me with your idea.

Colleen said...

'for a month we shared an ampersand' loverly. Like two teenagers breaking up. And good use of kerning. Now you know what it is you'll see bad kerning everywhere!

Anna said...

Kerning is just such a good word - implies keening and yearning all in a typographical format. Everybody wins!