Monday, April 17, 2006

Poem of the Day (April 15)

I really like this one:
I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run
by Matthea Harvey

Rain fell in a post-romantic way.
Heads in the planets, toes tucked

under carpets, that’s how we got our bodies
through. The translator made the sign

for twenty horses backing away from
a lump of sugar. Yes, you.

When I said did you want me
I meant me in the general sense.

The drink we drank was cordial.
In a spoon, the ceiling fan whirled.

The Old World smoked in the fireplace.
Glum was the woman in the ostrich feather hat.

From The Best American Poetry 2006, just published by Scribner, via the American Academy of Poets' daily email.

My favorite line: “The drink we drank was cordial.” The pun on cordial is lovely and restrained.

I like the gap between the formality of the poem and the colloquial title: the placement of “after leaving you” is unusual but everything else about the title expresses passion in need of an outlet.

Then, the English-major beginning, “a post-romantic way.” I don’t know what it means but it immediately connotes a speaker who’s a bit too smart.

I love trying to imaging what the sign “for twenty horses backing away from / a lump of sugar” might be and then, the poignant hilarity of that image as applied to a really, really stupidly gun-shy blind date.

I’ve been on those dates—where, for reasons mysterious, the man you find so attractive seems to find you somehow a bit too much; where, the lump of sugar you offer looks, to his eyes, terrifying.

And yes, the best thing to do afterwards is often to walk away quickly or even run.


Anonymous said...

On my initial reading of the poem I thought "Rain fell in a post-romantic way" was meant to read as that point when rain is no longer lovely, dreamy or romantic. I saw it more of a love gone sour depressing rain. Could this be a possibility or am I way off base?

Unknown said...

I don't think that's off base at all. I also think there's a pun on post-Romantic as in Victorian--something after the Romantic period. That doesn't change the meaning much--the Victorian period moved away from Romanticism in part by embracing utility and realism so that a post-romantic rain might be a realistic, non-dreamy rain.

What I like is the way that the unexpected phrase connotes just a little bit of sweet pretentiousness.