Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Polysemy -- having many meanings

Slogging through the days of
meetings, class, student conferences,
email, websites, research, writing,
I gather my equipment around me,
Take a short break to check my maps
and have a snack.

Through Massachusetts
in late July,
following the AT north for 200 miles
as it winds through swamps,
up and down hills,
through small towns,
I stop to wait,
breathing hard.
Leaning on my poles,
I watch while she
negotiates with a boulder field.
"Walk up the crack," I say.
"Follow that line."

To use the overhead projector, I must
pull down the screen.
Pull and tug as I may,
it will not stay down.
I pull up a chair,
tie a taut-line hitch,
and teach.

Collecting and purifying water,
Hanging a bear bag,
Setting up tents,
Cooking dinner,
Unpacking and packing gear.
The 'how-to' of daily life on the trail.

A colleague stops me in the hall between classes
To tell me that there is no true example
of polysemy.
"The experts argue," he says, grinning.
"And yes, I was looking over your shoulder."
No true example.

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