Guest poem submitted by Amulya Gopalakrishnan:
(Poem #792) The Beautiful Lie
He was about four, I think... it was so long ago. In a garden; he'd done some damage behind a bright screen of sweet-peas - snapped a stalk, a stake, I don't recall, but the grandmother came and saw, and asked him: "Did you do that?" Now, if she'd said why did you do that, he'd never have denied it. She showed him he had a choice. I could see, in his face, the new sense, the possible. That word and deed need not match, that you could say the world different, to suit you. When he said "No", I swear it was as moving as the first time a baby's fist clenches on a finger, as momentous as the first taste of fruit. I could feel his eyes looking through a new window, at a world whose form and colour weren't fixed but fluid, that poured like a snake, trembled around the edges like northern lights, shape-shifted at the spell of a voice. I could sense him filling like a glass, hear the unreal sea in his ears. This is how to make songs, create men, paint pictures, tell a story. I think I made up the screen of sweet peas. Maybe they were beans; maybe there was no screen, it just felt as if there should be, somehow. And he was my - no, I don't need to tell that. I know I made up the screen. And I recall very well what he had done.
I stumbled across this poem by Sheenagh Pugh by sheer accident, in the TLS. It describes the possibilities opened by the making of fiction, of creating counter universes with imagination. I love that heady, delirious moment of discovering - "this is how..." - it's resonant, memorable. It's such a powerful affirmation of the magic of 'making it up', escaping a too-literal world. "Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there", as John Barth puts it. Despite the teasing suggestion of Sin (the snake, the garden, the "taste of fruit"), it places creativity firmly on the side of experience. It looks at imagination not as some kind of pure innocent vision, but as something that is born out of some kind of friction, contact with the outside world. I don't know much about Sheenagh Pugh, except she's Welsh and writes wonderfully. She has a website: [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/sheenaghpugh. Amulya.