Poem with an explanation: this time, things would be different

she had a month
and so resolved
that this time
things would be different

she listened to the birds
she saw the plays
she watched the performers on every corner

through the gloss
she went to the weaver
and bought the cloth
on display

why are they running?
she didn’t understand
but she learned to speak the code

what are they saying?
she didn’t understand
but she learned to speak the code

taking out her map
from its new glass case
she went to the places with names

she listened to the professors
and tried to discern
the direction of the wind

she learned the names
and the stories
of the stars

she left behind
the books she read
and the posters
with the lessons

she made a mold
out of chiseled stone
and walked inside
and shut the door

she looked around
and listened to the wind
and tried to sing
the same song

in the wind
the sand blew
and who she was
was gone

she smiled then
but wasn’t sure
what was real

 

This poem is about fitting in.

In the poem, a woman quits her job and finds a new one.  She has a month though before the new job is to start.  At her last job, she did not fit in.  She decides that this time things will be different and decides to spend the month learning how to fit in.  These ideas are related in the first stanza (she had a month/ and so resolved/ that this time/ things would be different).

One thing she does is learn about entertainment.  She listens to popular music (she listened to the birds), watches popular movies (she saw the plays), and watched popular shows (she watched the performers on every corner).

She also learns about fashion.  She gets magazines (through the gloss) and buys clothes that they advertise (she went to the weaver/ and bought the cloth/ on display).

She also learns about sports.  She finds she doesn’t understand the games (why are they running?/ she didn’t understand) but she learns how to talk about sports (but she learned to speak the code).

She also learns how to talk.  She learns slang as well as jargon related to her job.  She doesn’t completely understand everything, but she learns to speak using the words (what are they saying?/ she didn’t understand/ but she learned to speak the code).

Another thing she does is learn about local places (taking out her map/ she went to the places with names).  As part of this she buys a new cell phone (from its new glass case).  She goes to places she has heard about and places near where she will work.

Additionally, she tries to learn about current events.  She watches the news (she listened to the professors).  She tries to figure out how her new coworkers will perceive the stories (and tried to discern/ the direction of the wind).  She wants to make sure she talks favorably about what they like.

She also learns about celebrities (she learned the names/ and the stories/ of the stars).

In the process of this, she tries to leave behind her old behavior.  She was intellectual, and this did not go well at work.  She tries to leave this behind (she left behind/ the books she read).  She also had a code she lived by.  She realized though that this caused tension at times when she didn’t think the way others thought.  She tries to leave this behind as well (and the posters/ with the lessons).

She becomes a new person (she made a mold/ out of chiseled stone/ and walked inside/ and shut the door).

She makes a very conscious effort to conform to how she believes people are (she looked around/ and listened to the wind/ and tried to sing/ the same song).

In the process, who she was goes away (in the wind/ the sand blew/ and who she was/ was gone).

As a result of all this, the woman fits in at work.  She becomes like her peers.  In one sense, this makes her happy (she smiled then).  On another level though, she realizes she isn’t being herself, but is rather conforming to her perception of society.  This cause a conflict within her (but wasn’t sure/ what was real).

The idea of this poem is to show a person making a very conscious effort to fit in.  The person has a perception of what society expects of her and she tries to conform to it.  She does this because of past bad experiences when she did not fit in.

Although she learns to be like the group, and this brings her some relief, the fact that she has become a mirror of her perception of society and has left her personality behind, causes her some conflict.  She is not sure if it was worth it.

Although this poem show someone going to great lengths to fit in, the ideas expressed can apply to smaller situations.  Readers can think about a time when they learned about something they really weren’t interested in for the sake of being part of a group.  Maybe the watched a movie they didn’t care to see or maybe they started watching a sport they didn’t have an interest in.  The ideas can reflect any time a person did something – even things that weren’t inherently bad – for the sake of being part of a group.

As a note, the poem isn’t about peer pressure.  The group doesn’t put the pressure on the person in the poem, like might happen when a group gets someone to drink alcohol, for example.  Rather, the person perceives society to be different from themselves and puts a pressure on themselves to be like what they perceive.

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