I laugh till my jaw unhinges,
we hold me in with ribboning fingers.
Moderation in moderation. Who said that?
It makes extraordinary sense to me.
You say that life is a three-legged race.
They show us the door and we have some difficulty,
bound like that from thigh to ankle.
The street is a blanket. We will sleep
with you on your front, me on your back.
The night will be endless and we will be endless,
layer on layer, infinitely warm.
I sing as we lie shoulder to shoulder
and tell you there is no such thing as anything
that is not a small circle. Now it is morning.
Can the bones we broke out of be mended?
My eyes . . . The sun picks over their embers.
Lavinia Greenlaw 1997
Hi friends and family! Apparently I am on a deconstructionist poetry kick - the last four poems have been modernist or post-modernist. They have certainly been abstract and difficult, but maybe my life has been that way. Or I am craving poetry so intensely (thanks to far too much math homework) that I am needing extreme jumbles of words to satisfy me. Plus, I have used up most of my comfort poems/poets, so I am getting to explore some new and different territory.
At any rate, this poem begins easily enough - the narrator comfortably addresses us, laughing and chatting away. The imagery is nearly cubist right off the mark, too, though. Body parts morph and separate in the act of laughing. This kind of deconstruction establishes both the strength of the emotion felt and the connection between the narrator and her date. After all, a laugh so hearty that it becomes jaw-unhinging is pretty powerful, and fingers "ribbioning" together is at once graceful and conective. The first stanza's message is clear as well; live all out. The narrator is explicit about this, agreeing with "moderation in moderation".
The second paragraph discusses relationships and, more specifically, these characters' relationship. The idea of life as a three-legged race is an interesting one. That we have to work with others is obvious, but it is perhaps a little more interesting to think that we have to be bound to them. A three legged race sounds a little enforced to me. The line "the street is a blanket" is odd as well; the best that I can do with it is to think that this poem is the story of one night. After all, the actions are very specific, and each stanza fits into the one-night theory. On this night, then, the couple decides to sleep on the street. The suddenness of the line makes the decision seem spur-of-the-moment, an extreme choice in an extreme night.
The third stanza has the most exuberance of any in the poem; its wheeling, drunken optimism saturates the four lines. That the couple will sprawl upon each other underlines their youth, energy, and spontaniety. The diction in this stanza is extreme as well. Literally, "infinite" and "endless" are so large as to be incomprehensible. I would actually pair the first two lines of the final stanza with the events in this one, for they finish one of the sentences.
Where the poem really is interesting, however, is in the final stanza. After the singing and the careening and the sleeping on the streets, bones are broken in the morning.
** again, I will tailor/finish the last two paragraphs later **