"'Consequence' is the word that splintered my mind."

— Hayes, Terrance (b. 1971)

July 11 and 18, 2016
"'Consequence' is the word that splintered my mind."
Metaphor in Context
Fortunately, the family, anxious about its diminishing
food supply, encountered a small, possibly hostile pig
along the way. The daughter happened upon it first
pushing its scuffed snout against something hidden
at the base of a thornbush: a blood-covered egg, maybe,
or small rubber ball exactly like the sort that snapped
from the paddle my mother used to beat me with
when I let her down. At the time the father and mother
were tangled in some immemorial dispute about cause
and effect: who'd harmed whom first, how jealousy
did not, in fact, begin as jealousy but as desperation.
When the daughter called out to them, they turned
to see her lift the pig, it was no heavier than an orphan,
from the bushes and then set it down in their path.
They waited to see whether the pig might idle forward
with them until they made camp or wander back toward
the home they'd abandoned to war. Night, enclosed
in small drops of rain, began to fall upon them.
"Consequence" is the word that splintered my mind.
Walking a path in the dark is about something
the way a family is about something. Like the pig,
I too, wanted to reach through the thorns for the egg
or ball, believing it was a symbol of things to come.
Terrance Hayes, "Ars Poetica with Bacon," The New Yorker (July 11 and 18, 2016). <Link to newyorker.com>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.