Years later I’m standing before a roomful of young writers in
a high school in Texas. I’ve asked them to locate an image
in a poem we’d just read—their heads at this moment
are bowed to the page. After some back & forth about the
grass & a styrofoam cup, a girl raises her hand & asks,
Does it matter? I smile—it is as if the universe balanced
on those three words & we’ve landed in the unanswerable. I
have to admit that no, it doesn’t, not really, matter, if rain
is an image or rain is an idea or rain is a sound in our heads.
But, I whisper, leaning in close, to get through the next
forty-seven minutes we might have to pretend it does.