Friday, July 2, 2021

Rage and Anguish and Love

 From The Paris Review:

If my childhood understanding of this poem was, well, childish, and my teenage interpretation little more than a swoon, my readings swerved again in adulthood. I had no classes to attend anymore, no textbooks or poems to study, but I had set myself a new curriculum to master. In attempting to raise our family on a single income, I was teaching myself to live by the rigors of frugality. I examined classified ads and supermarket deals with care. I met internet strangers and handed them coins in exchange for bundles of their babies’ clothes. I sold bundles of our own. I roamed car boot sales, haggling over toddler toys and stair gates. I only bought car seats on sale. There was a doggedness to be learned from such thrift, and I soon took to it.

My earliest years of motherhood, in all their fatigue and awe and fretfulness, took place in various rented rooms of the inner city. Although I had been raised in the countryside, I found that I adored it there: the terraces of smiling neighbors with all their tabbies and terriers, all our bins lined up side by side, the overheard cries of rage or lust in the dark, and the weekend parties with their happy, drunken choruses. Our taps always dripped, there were rats in the tiny yard, and the night city’s glimmering made stars invisible, but when I woke to feed my first son, and then my second, I could split the curtains and see the moon between the spires. In those city rooms, I wrote a poem. I wrote another. I wrote a book. If the poems that came to me on those nights might be considered love poems, then they were in love with rain and alpine flowers, with the strange vocabularies of a pregnant body, with clouds and with grandmothers. No poem arrived in praise of the man who slept next to me as I wrote, the man whose moonlit skin always drew my lips toward him. The love I held for him felt too vast to pour into the neat vessel of a poem. I couldn’t put it into words. I still can’t. As he dreamed, I watched poems hurrying toward me through the dark. The city had lit something in me, something that pulsed, vulnerable as a fontanelle, something that trembled, as I did, between bliss and exhaustion. (Read more.)


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