|another souvenir from england|
Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.
Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars toward them, bringing snow.
(from “various portents”)
oswald plays with the language, subtly, rubs her thumb over the surfaces of words, weighs them in her hand, sings them tentatively, then takes or abandons them. when i first bought this book i started at the beginning, grew impatient with the first two poems, and decided to finish it “later.” that time has finally come. and i am glad it has! there are some wonderful poems, swift and elegant turns of phrase, and intriguing stories, like “The mud-splattered recollections of a woman who lived her life backwards”:
No eyes no matches and yet mathematically speaking
I could still reach at a stretch a wispish whiteish [sic]
last seen outline any way up, which could well be my own
were it only a matter of refolding.
So I creased I uncreased and the next thing I knew
I was pulled from the ground at the appointed hour
and rushed to the nearest morgue to set out yet again
from the bed to the floor to the door to the air.
one of the recurring techniques* i noticed was repetition – repetition of whole phrases, at times the way you would find in song lyrics, at times the way you’d expect in a classic form poem, at times following and illustrating their own logic. “Walking past a Rose this June Morning” is a great example of how oswald makes this work for her. In fact, it may just be my favorite poem of the lot. it’s lines like these that do my heart good:
is there a new world known only to breathing?
now inhale what I remember. pause. how unbreathable
other poems in this book that made me feel that way: “Poem for carrying a Baby out of Hospital” and “Head of a Dandelion.”
i think i want to play with questions and repetitions for a bit for my next few poems… hmmm…
*) i wish there was a nicer word, something smoother, softer, that sounds less like it must be made of surgical steel because that’s not at all what this is.