Monday, March 9, 2009

Tarzan and Workshop Sex, or Miscommunication


I was writing to a friend today when I suddenly recalled a poetry workshop I attended years ago. I know what you're thinking, "Oh, crap, a workshop story. Click." Brevity being the soul of wit, I'll be short and sweet. I brought a poem to the workshop that was little more than a cute vignette of a married couple painting a room in their house in preparation for the arrival of their first child. The core image was husband and wife starting at opposite ends of the wall, gradually coming together to make the final stroke side by side. Aw, shucks, how sweet. It was terrible.  The workshop leader asked another participant to read the poem aloud and then to briefly synopsize what was going on in the poem. He read it in the ubiquitous droning chant of workshops and readings everywhere, and then proceeded to describe two lovers writhing on a floor covered in newspapers, their naked bodies splattered with paint, groaning with pleasure, etc., etc. I kept blinking my eyes, looking at the poem, then looking at the interpreter, then looking again at the poem I had written, and thought, "Damn, I'm even better than I thought!"


***

Before leaving Louisiana, I dusted off the family's VHS copy of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan: Lord of the Apes. What a film. This movie is on a continuous loop in a basement office in the Arts building of my subconscious. I recall seeing it a few times in childhood, but those few memories are formidable. Learning Portuguese, I feel like Tarzan every day, when the sweaty little Belgian keeps repeating, "RAY-ZOR! MEE-ROAR! Razor! Mirror!" And then the climatic lesson scene, "This is your mother! This is your father! FAMILY, JOHN, FAMILY!" Like Tarzan, I sometimes get the urge to leap out of my little hut, into the trees of the jungle, beating my chest and howling at monkeys. Acquiring a new tongue is hard work. 

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