There’s no information in a phone like this. I’m talking about the “stupid” phone I hold in my hand. You can’t just sit there reading your texts. And that’s all there is. I mean besides talking. I’m luxuriating in the slightly nose cold but ankles exposed sun of the dog run April 5th. My dogs today are barely interested in playing. Then one decides to hump the other—brotherly—and now they’re in their game. Joan Larkin’s poems fit neatly in my pocket. I read them from the front and then the back. A small book you can read it all different ways at different moments and just to open differently changes the poems. So when I hit Joan’s poem “Lake” and it begins:
I split the sky mirror,
lifting it on my blade,
and I’m outside beneath a sky in the exact same spot where ten years ago people thought god those planes are flying low I’m newly understanding that Joan’s sky mirror is a reflection and the poet is paddling. The wrinkles continue there. She’s looking at the bank:
Same salt as my teeth and bones
and the arm that ached
as I kept lifting the paddle
and later on again looking at this tiny trip so long ago. Or close. But the moment of its creation is deep.
I loved the mergansers teaching
their chicks, and the one loon
dipping her greenblack head,
When it’s written in recollection is a poem “plein air.” I’m thinking that the simple daily force of my own presence “out here” (though now it’s also recollection. I’m in an airport waiting. No now I’m sitting on a train.) helps open this syntax of hers. Her poem ends with that dive. The poet who “loves” is simply the holder, the gatherer of random acts in the world, leaves the poem by going underwater with the loon who came from up there then down below vanishing. Poems are a little Jesusy, you’ve got to admit since their kingdom is “not of this world.” It’s all of them.
Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1949, was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston in 1971, and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. She gave her first reading at CBGB's, and then gravitated to St. Mark's church where she...