Intrepid Girl Reporter


Wednesday, 11/19: animals
November 20, 2008, 12:05 am
Filed under: IGR Recommends, poetry

I had this dream last night that I read a poem. That was it; that’s all I can remember; and I didn’t even remember that until I started looking for “One Art” in order to reference it for this stupid essay for this fellowship program, and as I read it I had this vague memory of reading poetry and being struck by the perfection of its composition. It was a feeling that I haven’t had in the waking world in a really long time, and, thinking about it now, I didn’t appreciate that in this fictitious version of my life; I was just thinking, “This is a good poem. I like it.”

I haven’t read a lot of poetry lately. It’s one of my fairly constant goals, to broaden my horizons instead of returning to the same ones over and over, and there’s no reason for me not to do such a thing, but I just don’t always. It’s kind of like going to sleep at a decent hour. On any given night, there is every incentive for me to sleep and almost no positive results from staying awake until 2. (The allure of sleeping until 10AM wears off after five months of unemployment.) And yet I just don’t, whether through some sort of mental sloth or a fear of failure (failure to what? to understand a poem? to fall asleep?) or God knows what. Until I suddenly want to again, and then I read everything I can find for a week or two and set my alarms. There are a lot of things I haven’t been doing lately that I should.

But the memory of that poem inspired me to spend half an hour going through the archives of Rachel’s old blog to find this poem that she posted a long time ago, that I loved at the time, that I knew had something to do with maps and was by Sharon Olds. The only other poem-seeking I’ve done lately is Frank O’Hara, and quite frankly, that’s only because I a) saw him quoted on someone’s Facebook profile and b) Mad Men. Surprise: I don’t like the Sharon Olds one as much as I used to – I’m not crazy about it at all right now, actually, but maybe that’s because I’m not in any sort of love – and I really like Frank O’Hara. But I’m going to post them both here anyway, because I’d hate to lead you on.

Topography

Sharon Olds

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco againt your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas, your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Animals
Frank O’Hara

             Have you forgotten what we were like then
       when we were still first rate
       and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

       it's no use worrying about Time
       but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
       and turned some sharp corners

       the whole pasture looked like our meal
       we didn't need speedometers
       we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

       I wouldn't want to be faster
       or greener than now if you were with me O you
       were the best of all my days
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