Poem with an explanation: the glass barrier

the glass barrier
blocking hope in its mocking
relief is opaque
silently the statue breathes
as eyes stare in unblinking


This poem is a tanka.  It is written in the 57577 format.  There are two parts: the first three lines and the last two.

This poem is about a dog sitting outside looking at a glass door.  The dog is waiting for something.  It wants something from a person that is on the other side of the door.

The first line, the glass barrier, describes the door.  The door is glass with a metal frame.  The words in the line are meant to show a contrast.  The door is glass.  Glass is generally weak and breakable.  The door is also a barrier.  A barrier is something that stops something else from going through.  The idea is that something weak and breakable is blocking the dog from what it wants.

The second line, blocking hope in its mocking, is like the first.  The glass door blocks the hope of the dog.  It separates it from what it wants.  The door mocks though.  The door is glass.  Glass is weak.  This weak glass is blocking the dog.  The door is personified in the line.

The third line says, relief is opaque.  This line is a play on the idea of glass.  Generally, glass is clear and transparent.  The opposite of that is being opaque.  The dog wants relief, but can’t see it despite the clear glass door.

The next two lines shift the focus.  The first three lines focused on the door from the perspective of the dog.  The next two lines focus on the dog.

The fourth line of the poem says, silently the statue breathes.  The dog in the poem is sitting still in front of the door looking at it.  This line continues the idea of before of contrasting imagery.  In the line, a statue, which does not move, is breathing.

The last line says, as eyes stare in unblinking.  This line describes the dog looking at the door with intensity.  The idea reflects the idea of a statue from the line before.  A statue cloud be said to have eyes that stare unblinking.  This is not actually true though, as staring is an action and a statue is not acting in any way.  A statue only appears to be staring.  The dog though, is staring.  In some sense this is like the line before.  Together, the two lines are describing a statue breathing and staring.  A statue can’t do those things, but the dog is.  The dog is statue like though, because it is still in front of the door for an extended period of time.

Another point about the last line, is that the dog is staring in, not out.  Normally, staring is describing as staring out, as in “staring out in space”.  The dog though is staring in.  There are two ways to look at this.  First, literally, the dog is staring in the building through the glass of the door.  It wants something from the other side.  In another sense though, the line is describing introspection.  The dog is focused on what is on the other side of the door, but it is really focused on its internal feelings.  The dog is focused on what it wants from the other side of the door.


Do you like poems with explanations?  Do you like to support writers whose work you enjoy?

M. Sakran has a self-published book of poems with explanations. It is called Understanding: poems with explanations and is available for purchase as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. If you like poems with explanations and like to support writers whose work you enjoy, then consider purchasing a copy today.