Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two Women Talking

I’ve been reading The Logic of Opposites, by Alane Rollings. She was a favorite of Chris Al-Aswad at Escape Into Life

(Here she is there.)

Excerpts from this book

From “Spiraling Upward”:

            I’m no intellectual, but I think a lot.
Love gets me started.  I turn it around and around in my brain
as if it’s meant to embrace everything.

From “Positions of Strength, a poem that has for an epigraph the Chinese proverb, If you have to be a human being, don’t be a woman. This stanza incorporates the proverb:

            If you have to be a human being, don’t be a woman.
Your happiness and even your grief will depend on others
in whom you’ll see things that may not be there.
Your self-possession will keep changing hands;
your endless battles—against, dirt, friction, sobs like fists in your throat,
and spells of adoring sickness—will be yours alone.

I admire the simplicity of statement here, side by side with wit.  As the title suggests, this is a book of opposites, paired poems looking at two sides of things: peace/disorder, illogic/logic, outside/inside, escape/return. They are longish poems, pursuing their topics thoroughly, with richness and subtlety, each one often containing the seed of its opposite. 

But I must return to those women in “Positions of Strength,” noting the wonderful calm title:

A couple of women talk to the fire, ask why it dies, ask why men
embrace them, erase them, use them to get born or get a leg up to heaven,
leaving them behind, Bodhisattvas at the gate,
and in the rain and cold of interiors that no man knows.
            There are no sexual mutilations here, no bride burnings.
Just two women talking.
Just one woman, really, with nothing left
but that she can still blush, fall in love, extend herself to anything
as if it were as sentient and complex as she.
            Nothing left but that when the columbine opens wide
and the trees seem female, she can cry for them.
For the delicate evergreens, and for the chestnut tree as it pulls itself to leaf again.
For any man, for each hour, for every brick and creature,
and for the dust that will be back every other day
on the street paved with oyster shells, in the faded yellow house
where a woman’s glad to say
how much she had that she could give away.

Thanks to JJ Harrison and Peter Ruhr and Wikipedia for the columbine. Thanks to Alane Rollings and all the strong women who have so much to give away.


Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

Wonderful expression here kathleen.
Being a 'staunch' proponent of womens rights and issues (Raised by a single mother) and because what they're issues are reflect the issues of my latino-ness.

Thank you for sharing this

Kathleen said...

Thanks, nene. I highly recommend her book, which goes all over the world and all over mind, heart, body!

Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

I intend on buying it along with many other books being that we, Roberta, the wife and myself lost a lot of books and literature in our flood. Recommendations are heartfully welcome

Maureen said...


Kathleen said...

Nene, you'll see that The Logic of Opposites is remarkably affordable at Amazon, with Marketplace sellers.

You can also find it here, direct from the publisher, Triquarterly Books, at Northwestern University Press, though at full price:

Kathleen said...

Copy & paste the URL into browser, or select and right click it. I don't put live links in comment, due to spammers and commercial people, etc.

Collagemama said...

Maybe the reason I rarely drink wine is just the mention of the faded yellow house makes me teary.

Kathleen said...

Isn't it amazing how a detail like that in a poem can carry so much emotional power for a reader?!