Audio

Andererway

September 3, 2018

Sophia Dahlin: I am Sophia Dahlin, and this is Poetry Now. I was in what I’ve now learned to call an emotionally abusive and co-dependent relationship, but at the time I just thought I was in a very complicated romance. I wrote this poem in a moment of intense love of someone who’s mind and who’s fear and unhappiness was structuring my life. In the moment where I actually wrote this poem, I was not with the person I was in love with. I was sitting next to my dear friend, who was a very beautiful young person. My partner was very jealous and didn’t like me to be friends with beautiful people. To be enjoying someone like my friend was something I knew I could get in trouble for. I think some of the sense of threat in the poem comes from the circumstance of it’s writing.

 

 

Andererway

 

when it pushes shadow from the trees

and presses it from their needles outside the Dye House

and the bus is dark inside     when it picks apart the lawn

and you are here

will you soften me?      for the sun

will you deflect it?

I am blinking in the atrium    the library

I don’t know if you have a room for me

or where on me you can lie down

 

but I want my anger easily exhausted

the way fact takes the rug from an argument

we both go on the floor

I do feel your shade

your wavy boughs   you dream

you are leaving me

I would become an ordinary person if you did

but you are awake   and I am ordinary anyway

and it pushes through me

 

Sophia Dahlin: Argument is part of the poem. The idea that there’s something moving through the speaker, who I will now refer to as “me”, that is undesirable, volatile, angry. There’s something desirable about being taken apart, being softened.

 

when it picks apart the lawn

and you are here

will you soften me?      for the sun

 

Sophia Dahlin: I think there was some awareness when I wrote this that there was something unusual about the fact that I was trying to lose the anger. Because anger is a necessary emotion, especially for having a self. You need your anger to protect your boundaries. You need your anger to let you and others know when you’re being violated.

 

but I want my anger easily exhausted

the way fact takes the rug from an argument

we both go on the floor

 

Sophia Dahlin: The end of the poem is so strange to me, because it ascribes agency to the “you” in the poem for the entire reality of the poem.

 

you dream

you are leaving me

I would become an ordinary person if you did

 

Sophia Dahlin: You dream, you are leaving me. It’s my poem, should I be the dreamer? I think that’s where I was when I wrote the poem. I was conscious of moving through someone else’s mind all the time.

 

Katie Klocksin: That was Sophia Dahlin and her poem “Andererway”. I’m Katie Klocksin, and this is Poetry Now, a production of The Poetry Foundation. For more about this series, go to poetryfoundation.org/poetrynow.

Sophia Dahlin navigates a complicated set of emotions inside an emotionally abusive relationship. Produced by Katie Klocksin.

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