This exercise comes in three parts:
1. Describe an object or scene that particularly interests you without making any comparisons of one thing to another. Rewrite it, if necessary, until it is as free of comparisons as possible.
2. Take the same object or scene and use it to describe one of your parents. In other words indulge yourself in comparisons.
3. Write a poem which, though it is a description of the object or scene, is really about your parent.
It may be useful to publish and share the first part before moving on. Get feedback from your peers to be certain your initial description does no lapse into comparison.
This exercise helps teach the necessity of indirection. The quickest way from point A to B (from a person to a clarified feeling, say) detours through metaphor. Not to mention through several drafts in the rewriting.
Grandfather by Paul Wright
by Julio Noboa Polanco
Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.
To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.
I'd rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they're praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.
I'd rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed.