Friday, June 4, 2010

My Dreary Day

Poem of the Day:
Philip Levine's "The House of the Hanged Child"
Not This Pig

Today was the first overcast day since I've been in Boston; we've had rain but never a day where the sun seemed an angry friend turning his back. The weather mirrored my mood. Job hunting in Cambridge has been difficult; do not my poetry awards and dance teaching experience make me qualified to work at Urban Outfitters? Apparently not.

As I sat in the living room, eating lunch and feeling utterly hopeless, Levine's poem leaped from page to canvas; the experience of reading it became a visual one. He writes of the darkness housed (literally and figuratively) within suburbia: "the white house/drops a black shadow" (lines 2-3). This tension between the white and the dark references both history (the American Civil Rights Movement) and metaphor (facade versus truth). There is the house, the place of supposed familial harmony, and the 'hanged child' it seems to be housing. He returns to color to express this tension, writing, "Near the cypresses shading the white/Impala no one can drive/a small dark brother leans" (lines 20-22).

These "cypresses" too line the Cambridge street on which I live. And, on the first overcast day thus far I was for the first time able to recognize the dark beneath the picturesque; gray skies made the brick and ivy street seem ominous rather than quaint. The sky and Levine, perhaps in that order, made me reconsider houses; and, more importantly, how their structures belie what they house.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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