Defamiliarization

by Abner Dormiendo

When one writes a poem about familiar
occurrences, the poet must offer a way
of looking at it from a different lens. This is
nuance. It’s offering something new
to the table. So when you talk about
the sunset, the goal is to make them see
how the sunset is no longer a sunset. It is now
a bag of tea slowly being lowered into the
warm afternoon sky. So the next time
you see a sunset, you would say it’s a
teabag. And people would laugh at you
because it is not a teabag, it is the sun.
But you know better. This is nuance.
A sunset is just a sunset, until your dying father
watches it beside you, and it’s not the same
sunset anymore. The air is not air anymore
when your father breathes his last. You start thinking
about all the oxygen it took throughout his lifetime
to sustain the momentum. To suspend entropy.
And you think about his bed, his clothes,
everything he owns. And how they no longer
feel as familiar as they used to be when once
your father was there. When he held you close
before he finally leaves you like the sun retiring
for the night, you felt his body, thin as glass,
and how an embrace is no longer an embrace
and his body is no longer his body,
and all at once, you feel like a stranger
to your own, and how everything is not
the same anymore. How people say death
is not as poetic as it looks like, but sometimes
the slightest wind or a sudden warmth
now have a new meaning. You know nuance.
So you cry and other people will ask you why
but you cannot answer. This is something
no one will understand. You cry in silence,
watch the sun become the tea;
the sky, the water. This is nuance. You know better.

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