Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Boneless Heaps

Poem of the Day:
"I Said No No" by Daniel Berrigan
Prison Poems

Berrigan's collection of poems written while he was incarcerated for conspiracy and destruction of government property (he burned draft records as a form of protest against the Vietnam War) are complex, unmasking an angry and disordered mind. I had to read "I Said No No" multiple times today, sometimes very slowly, in order to grasp what I believe to be an abstract questioning of faith: "No help for it/a transmogrified high vaulter/by choice" (lines 11-13).

I did not see room for the poem as a whole in my day; rather, I encountered only one of the lines of Berrigan's poem today. This afternoon a few friends and I traveled to the Garment District near Kendall Square. I soon learned that the Garment District is the epitome of 'thrifting and sifting'; piles of worn and tattered (some) clothes slump on the floor and one must sift with great focus in order to find a wearable piece. The upside is that it is dirt cheap. The clothes rescued from the depths of the floor are sold at $1.50/lb. I paid $6.90 for 8 items of clothing.

But, some of the sifters were hard to distinguish from the clothing; heaps of body were slumped upon heaps of clothing. Sagging with the struggles that may have brought them to this very cheap lot of clothes, there were some women that sat upon the piles of clothes and sifted from this heavy position, as if to say it would take time to find what they were looking for but they had hardly the energy.

Berrigan ends his poem with the lines, "Clouds have no bones./He rides and rains" (lines 14-15). In his words I am reminded of the sagging women, the sagging clothes, and how they mirror one another. They "have no bones," but are also devoid of the quality of "[C]louds." In a book made up of poems about suffering, the last words of Berrigan's "I Said No No" seems more hopeful than scenes of today. At least he had lightness, "[C]louds," and "rains" that lead to suns.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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