Thursday, December 07, 2006

Teeth and Poetry

Wisdom TeethFirst, I must apologize for my obvious inability to communicate in yesterday's post. I was trying to say that blogging/writing this week has been like pulling teeth, nothing has been coming out easy. But then I thought back to when I was 17 and had my wisdom teeth pulled out and how that wasn't such a hard thing after all. So I corrected myself but did it badly since now you all think I had my teeth out recently! Thank you for your concern. I and my teeth are doing just fine. The photo is actually of my wisdom teeth. It sort of looks like five teeth but there are only four, one of them was broken on extraction. As I was slipping away into oblivion the oral surgeon asked me if I wanted to keep the teeth. Sure! I said. And I still have them. They sit in their little tooth box on a shelf above my desk. Is that gross? I always thought that since they were wisdom teeth, and I could use all the wisdom I could get, there was no harm in keeping them. Now, on to books! I began reading a new poetry book last night. This Sharpening by Ellen Doré Watson. I've never read any of her poetry before. The book showed up several months ago from Tupelo Press. According to the book flap, Watson has quite the curriculum vitae. Maybe I should not have read her bio before I started the poetry because I expected to be wowed. I read the first poem a couple of times and still didn't understand it. I read it out loud to my husband and his response was, "Huh?" I read the second and third poems and pretty much understood them but only on an intellectual level. When I read poetry I like to feel it in my body. I'm a bit disappointed. Watson is turning out to be one of those poets that is very cerebral while writing about things that are at times very personal to her, people she knows, experiences she's had. But because I am not making an emotional connection with most of it not many of the poems I've read leave me with anything other than a hope that maybe I will like the next poem. And I have liked some of them, I don't want you to think the poems are bad. I really like the poem "Interrogative":

What was it you thought would fly in the window? Was panic a confession, wakefulness a miner's light under the blanket? Do I need more ways to say love won't ever-- nope nope nope--be fractured by infractions? How is your math coming along and what is an algorithm? Will you forgive me if I die from my own stupidity? Should I wait to tell you maybe I do those things to make sure I die first? Do you know I snitch candy from your stash? Where in heaven did you get the phrase sacre bleu? Did you have any idea, when you told me, how huge and startling a gift it is that you trace the lines of my face in the dark before sleep?
I like this one because I can feel the relationship, imagine it as one of those long marriages. The kids are grown and there is a lot of water under the bridge, but there is love there too. This one is the only poem from the dozen or so I have read that I like in its entirety. There are others with lines that are striking, like "Cupped Palms"
Some days the words I weigh in cupped palms turn to ash, and what I really need is someone to tell me the truth about trees.
I have no idea what those lines mean, but I like them. In spite of the rocky start, I will keep reading this book, hoping that somewhere along the line I might start to understand what she means. For now, a few glimmers and sparkles are enough.