Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trimming the fat

First, a birthday shout-out to my baby sister Meredith. She's a gifted writer, a lover of dogs, and an old soul who turns 19 today. I miss and love you, girl!

(Abrupt segue...)

Lately I've been trying to streamline: my household, my relationships, my schedule, my commitments, my character, my body, and yes, my writing. It's a challenge to trim away what is undesirable or unneccessary without cutting to the bone; finding the balance takes practice and finesse often beyond what I think I have. But I keep on trying, having occasional moments of brilliant success that sustain my momentum through the rest of the day.

This morning I was meditating on my efforts and the perfect analogy came to me, I think, because my brother-in-law is a meat cutter. I shop at the supermarket where he works and have come to respect him as being more than a tradesman; he's an expert artisan who knows his craft completely and always gives me the best advice about what cut of meat to use, recipes, and even what will be on sale in the near future. Maybe someday I will have that same thorough expertise and artistic skill in shaping my own life.

Trimming (the) Fat

There is the finest of lines
between being a butcher
and a meat cutter

knowing exactly where
to insert razor-edged blade
gently but firmly sever
a joint’s connective tissues
without tearing tender flesh
carving choicest cuts
rather than hacking out
shapeless chunks of meat
slicing off cartilage, gristle, bone
and finally
trimming away just enough fat
to leave a little for flavor

there is the finest of lines
between being a butcher
and a poet.


paisley said...

girl... that was smooth... cuts to the bone... loved it!!!!!!

anthonynorth said...

Getting to the meat of the problem :-)
Although I'm not so sure that correctly cutting away the irrelevances of life is butchery.
You don't have a relation who's a diamond cutter or something like that, have you?

lyd said...

good analogy but wow that was graphic! i try to forget about butchers and pretend my steak grew no differently than my side of mashed potato. now i'm queasy thinking about the pork chop i had for dinner

chicklegirl said...

Paisley--thanks! This was kind of a different tone for me to try, and I'm glad it worked.

Anthony--what I was trying to say (and maybe failed?) is the challenge for me is to cut away irrelevances without butchering. Sometimes in my haste I cut too deeply, and sometimes not deeply enough.

Lyd--hope I didn't gross you out! I guess I was looking at this sort of surgically, almost clinically. Glad to see you here; I miss you!