Wednesday, August 18, 2021

If the house

Molly Spencer is a poet I've admired for a long time, and I loved reading If the house (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019) here in August, for the Sealey Challenge. 

Of course, I encountered August in actual lines of the poems! First, in the poem "Bridging": "You've been trying to get this right--August / evening, ten o'clock and the sky / still rinsed with light." Gorgeous, huh? And again at the end, the very last poem, "I Talk Myself through the Facts of Each Day," and I must include the fact that I have just picked peaches in my parents' back yard!

     Here is a peach
     fat in my hand. This means
     it must be August.

Indeed. I loved these quiet, lonesome poems. It's a sad, gray book with snow in it, sorrow, the loving care of children, and the wisdom (and beauty) of not crying over spilled milk.

I found other coincidences beyond August. Goldenrod will be blooming here soon, and I love these lines from "Meadow / A Reckoning":

     Girl, you have burned yourself out. Goldenrod
     Rusts at your edges, the dazed sky sharpens
     Its blunted blade toward blue.

As I read these lines during the August evening, in the poem "Disclosures / If you are aware of any nuisance animals, such as crows, chickens, or barking dogs," "The crows will go on gathering / inside you," batches of crows were flying overhead, congregating in the north by northwest...very Hitchcockian.

I loved the two poems, "Conversation with Glass and Joist" and "Conversation with Windows and Green," that show the basic incompatibility of a married couple. The silence, the distance. By chance, I had just seen Aloha, and its scenes with a silent husband (sometimes with subtitles) and his yearning wife, though these involve some comedy, and Spencer's poems have no such comic relief; instead, a gripping intensity.

The sadness is relieved by fierce honesty. Titles still laden with sorrow begin to quiver with hope: "As if life can go on as it has" and "Even so, the first bird." I woke before the first bird to tell you so.


Bethany Reid said...

Loving this series -- thanks for all the new recommendations, and the peaches :)

Kathleen said...

Thanks so much!