Inspired by “Becoming” by Ifeoluwa Ayandele.
You want to read a poem. You want authentic experience: Just you alone with a feeling-idea, made by a poet approachable. You find the poem on a white page, perfect. But this page’s owner has the poem surrounded: It’s every swimsuit you’ve ever wanted. It’s nothing personal, the owner says. Somebody's gotta pay to keep all these lights on. It’s okay. You’re too smart to be influenced. You read: I really do want that bikini. My skin looks good in green. But maybe I’m too old for that. Maybe this. How much is it? Look away. But it’s too late. A new tab is spiraling. You fight its hypnosis. Close it. You want to read a poem. You go back, line one: "January, with its harmattan winds," but now, Just a quick click to the dict— harmattan noun a dry, dusty wind that blows dark a season on the south of the Sahara Desert. The poet gives you the new word twice; If you really want to understand it, you should at least see a photo. Command-N, YouTube. Between the 9 letters and "enter" you must press, Your eyes scan 8 suggested videos. David Mitchell had to return his cat because… [hover] their personalities clashed. Well that might be hilarious. You deserve a good laugh! Later, later. You want to read a poem. Here, this video is under a minute. Hi, I'm Nicole Huckley asking you to act because now is our best chance to pass meaningful bipartisan legisla—Skip Ad. At last, you watch, half a world away, a wall of dirt and rust fill the Nigerian empyrean like a bowl pushed through by a wave. Steadily the breaker thrusts clarity from the sky, whipping crops and faces with pelts of dust. The sun disappears in a red haze. So that’s harmattan. Now you want even more to read that poem. You are ready to understand: I couldn’t find the knob to the front door, for my living room was littered… You read a poem online today. You weren’t sure you could relate. ∎