Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Am Very Human

Poem of the Day:
"Fire Escape" by Sharon Olds
Blood, Tin, Straw

A horrific thunderstorm hit Harvard Square today. I should have known; the humidity all day was building to an unbearable degree. I stepped out of the subway right as the storm began into air so thick it was a thing to be traversed.

Thunderstorm air feels unnaturally charged, so full of tension that the world feels on the brink of revelation. It is the air in which realization brings about total defeat; "I wonder who is at the door," "Why isn't he back from the grocery store," "Where is my son?" People run from this air, and it is storms that remind us of our tenuous existence as humans.

Olds addresses a fire escape, an object generally untouched by poetic regard. Of its appearance she writes, "It held with rusted struts to the rear/corner of the wedding-cake hotel,/and it was made of rust, five-story spiral/cylinder" (lines 1-4). In this worn add-on of a building she finds a humanness: "it must have been made in a foundry, laid on its/side while the helix was riveted into it" (lines 7-8). Olds creates a crude figuring of sex; excuse my crassness, but what else is the "helix" and the act of being "riveted into"?

The poet recalls hanging out by this fire escape, climbing atop it and riding it back down to the street. She writes, "I would drop down through it, silent, illegal,/unseeing, heart half-stopped, a globule/of matter, a sperm in my father, who is not even/horizontal, now--burned up, ash" (lines 30-33). In a simple, be it strange set of motion, Olds returns to the most elemental of human properties, "sperm," a tool of reproduction and of what makes us truly animal.

So, I am humbled by storms and now, I suppose, I can add fire escapes to that list.

A Poem A Day Audrey


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home