28 January 2016

Poetry Thursday - Babyblues by Barbara Kingsolver

for Lily on the verge

Look at me my
dark scarlet heart disguised in pink
I am Look! At! Me!
Oh I'm the pure blue force of Want
howling through thin walls
like a prairie wind.
I am so large and empty
Why do the cheerios stick to the backs of my hands?
When I push the bear through the bars,
Why is it gone? I want that bear.
I want
Oh listen, the jingleshudder of ears getting up
the dog! Oh comecomecomecomecomecomecomecome
I want that dog.
Oh keep your pastel colours.
Boredom is a purple need. Hunger is vermillion.
I want my dark blue heaven milk mothermother
but the minute I fall into darkness she puts me down.
They do, they put you down. The big ones
only want one thing: to leave you alone.
You have to stay awake, see.
The big ones are my shepherd and I shall want
with the pure blue force
of a howling wind I want
the dog the bear the milk I want
every cheerio that fell on the floor I want
the brightest colours
all pressed hard against my gums
I want
the world
and it will not fit
in my mouth.

-- Barbara Kingsolver (from Another America, 1992)

(With thanks to Kathy Loomis, guest curator, who found a copy of the poem while cleaning her studio; it was once read to a calligraphy class by the teacher, and she'd held on to it ever since. So it should be with favourite oems - turning up at odd moments.)

Barbara Kingsolver (b.1955) is better known as a novelist (The Poisonwood Bible; The Lacuna; etc). She writes about how poems happen here. She says, "I rarely think of poetry as something I make happen - it is more accurate to say that it happens to me. Like a summer storm, a house afire, or the coincidence of both on the same day. Like a car wreck, only with more illuminating results. I've overheard poems, virtually complete, in elevators and restaurants where I was minding my own business. When a poem does arrive, I gasp as if an apple had fallen into my hand, and give thanks for the luck involved. Poems are everywhere, but easy to miss."

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