Friday, June 11, 2010

My New Hat

Poem of the Day:
"The Swimming Pool Float" by William Baer
American Arts Quarterly: Spring 2010

The Swimming Pool Float

He remembers, before she died last May,
watching as she slowly blew up and inflated
that circular reddish float, puffing away,
as their eager little children waited.
He recalls her love, her yellow bathing suit,
that every breath we take in the summer breeze
contains some fifty million super-minute
molecules once breathed by Sophocles...

Tonight, holding the float, when the night is cool,
he moves her chair to exactly the same place,
opens the valve, and sits beside the pool--
then feels her breath rush gently over his face,
alone with loneliness, alone with death,
he inhales her last remaining breath.

Today I bought a hat; I have no money and as of yet no job, but I bought a hat. It is a beautiful hat. It is a floppy hat. Think of the other Audrey, "My Fair Lady," but with a flop. That is my new hat.

Because of my new hat my reading of Baer's poem is far from what I perceive to be the intended reading; rather than experience first the loss, and in the final lines the gain (perhaps) of the speaker I cannot help but focus upon the images created in the first stanza.

For me Baer creates a fashionably iconic summer scene; I am thinking 1950s or 1940s. He notes only primary colors, her "yellow bathing suit" and "that circular reddish float," leading me to believe that the rest of the poetically-secured portrait is black & white and that it is an old photograph.

Despite the nostalgia of the first stanza, the second stanza's regard for the present makes it clear that Baer's "love" is still in some form with the speaker, even if it is merely the thin air of her "breath." I want nothing more to hold on to this small hope of her remainder and to march into the scene of the first stanza, ignorant of impending death, wearing my new floppy hat and with "every breath [taking] in the summer breeze."

A Poem A Day Audrey


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