Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Umbrellas and Choice

One of the benefits of taking on April’s National Poetry Month was discovering cool stuff like Poem-a-Day.  Everyday, free of charge, straight to my mailbox, I get to savor a new verse flavor.  I like it.  This one especially feathered my appreciative factor:

L’Avenir est Quelque Chose
by Dobby Gibson

All day for too long
everything I’ve thought to say
has been about umbrellas,
how I can’t remember how
I came to possess whatever weird one
I find in my hand, like now,
how they hang there on brass hooks
in the closet like failed actors,
each one tiny or too huge,
like ideas, always needing
to be shaken off and folded up
before we can properly forget them on the train.
Most of my predictions are honestly
just hopes: a sudden sundress in March,
regime change in the North, the one where Amanda
wins the big book award from the baby boomers.
There’s that green and white umbrella
the cereal company interns handed us
outside the doomed ball game,
the one just for sun,
the one with the wooden handle
as crooked as the future
that terrifies me whenever one of us uses it
as a stand-in for a dance partner.
You once opened it in the living room
so Scarlett could have a picnic
beneath something that felt to her like a tent
as it felt to me like my prediction
When I want to try to understand now
I tend to look up and how
truth be untold, I might see nothing
more than a few thousand pinholes in black nylon,
it’s enough to get you to Greece and back,
or something to kiss beneath,
who knows how this is going to play out?
I know you won’t ever be able to say
exactly what you’re feeling either,
the way worry might pop open overhead
like fireworks oozing pure midnight —
will we ever see the sun? —
the way we’re sure to pull closer
to whatever’s between us, the rain playing
the drum that’s suddenly us.e would live forever was already true.

About This Poem: from the author
“‘Rather than approaching a new poem as if it might be your last, try approaching it as if it’s simply your next.’ I had scribbled this advice to myself in my notebook just before I wrote this poem. It was a cold and rainy day in Minneapolis. The future seemed impossible. I grabbed the first thing I could find nearest the door.”

Roughly translated I believe the title means: “The future is a thing that overcomes. It is undergoing not the future, it is fact.”  Does anyone have a truer translation (I *cough* never took French in school, and um, sailed in the low passing in German).

Why Pick This Poem:
Umbrellas are a fave of mine.   That instant bubble zone of being in the weather, yet being protected at the same is both cozy and reassuring. It’s a lot like getting an idea and being immersed in it while coping with paying bills, driving in traffic, grading papers–I’m involved in the everyday, but walking in the bubble of an idea. Just like I carry an umbrella in my car, have one in my classroom, and there’s one hanging in the home hallway. One never knows when walking in a bubble is needed.

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3 thoughts on “Umbrellas and Choice

  1. I like big umbrellas so that everything stays nice and dry. One of the most fun umbrellas I ever saw had a black outer cover and a Leonardo da Vinci-style mural on the inside. Wish I could find something like that.

  2. I found a vintage umbrella at an estate sale a few months ago. It was so awesome.

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