Saturday, October 1, 2022

What Is Plot?

An English word of unknown origin
With the basic sense of a bounded bit
Of land. Eventually, that boundedness

Began to include the sense of measure,
Of land laid out in certain measurements,
And from there to the layout of a room.

You can see where this was going—measure,
Lay-out, plan, a sense of something arranged,
Not simply left to sprawl haphazardly,

Not just from here to over there, between,
Say, the river, that hill, and the forest,
But measured and abstracted boundaries,

Confined by the composed, by agreement,
As the plot. We’re the last ones to complain
About the crimes of the artificial

Against the holy natural, itself
A lovely artificial distinction,
But clearly plots are human artifice,

Species-specific, not landscape features,
One reason they’re so frequently compared
To webbed artifices of arachnids,

Know what we mean? We’d like to lose the plot
Sometimes. Sometimes we want to dare someone
Fond of story to sprawl through sprawled events.

Leave the plotting to surveyors, merchants,
And archeologists who need to know
How your ruins lie. Let them lie. Just lie.

We know it will make a terrible plot.
We’ll never see your character struggle
And climb up along firm, stepped terraces.

Be the river that floods the plot, the flash
Flood that left such ruins in the first place.
Be the true protagonist. Wreck all plots.

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