Friday, April 23, 2010


Today was the day I stopped writing in the middle of a sentence to ask myself - whatever am I doing? Trying to write about poems is like being the mouse next to the elephant - my writing hand is so very, very small, my legs so incredibly short.

Yet I remind myself that this is not so much about the poem itself, which has its own giant feet to stand on. This is more about the experience of eating it, word by word, sentence by sentence. This is about chewing it, tasting it, sensing it slide down my throat. This is about letting the poem enter my bloodstream, feel how pumps round and round, nourishing my cells.

And when Sharon Olds’ My Son the Man enters my world this is what happens. I laugh. I cry. I am reminded of a cuddly little bundle of soft flesh tossed up in the air, and then caught again. I remember the boy who followed me wherever I went, even into the loo.

Then he grew taller, more bony. Until one day he walks next to me in the park, thin, but with broad shoulders and inquisitive eyes. It is the era of nine-eleven, of a proclaimed good world and a bad world, of axis of evil. People are distressed, depressed, the papers are full of it, they never give us a moment to rest.

“I’m off to Damascus”, he says.

I stop.
I stare.

Then there is no more talk of it. For one week. Three. I hope the idea will float away, like a cloud in the sky.

“....This was not what I had in mind when he pressed up through me like a
sealed trunk through the ice of the Hudson,
snapped the padlock, unsnaked the chains,
and appeared in my arms.....”

Did I ever imagine he would counter my wishes? (Hah!)
Did I ever realize he would open the door, to shut it firmly behind him? (Hah!)
Did I ever think there was a world out there, that I would never be part of? (Hah! Hah!)

“........Now he looks at me
the way Houdini studied a box
to learn the way out, then smiled and let himself be manacled.”

When the tickets are bought, he looks at me. And smiles.


  1. Hello. I was introduced to you by Becca of Becca's Byline and am so glad of it! Your words about the force of poetry--and then Sharon Olds' words...ahhhh. Thank you. I will return often.

  2. Erin -

    You mean, mine and Sharon Olds’.....chains?....... 8-)

    ds -

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Eating a poem by the spoonful is as healthy as cod-liver oil. The taste of course, soooo much nicer :-)

    Your return is most welcome!