Saturday, June 19, 2010

What Would Remain?

Poem of the Day:
"Theory of Everything" by Rae Armantrout
Next Life

The couple from which we are subletting this summer love to cook. I have ascertained this fact from hearsay, but also from the various gadgets that adorn their kitchen; a junkyard of car parts with multifarious, but also unknown, purposes.

Armantrout approaches her poem from a very lofty position, one of philosophical musing. Thankfully she regards form as a means of giving the reader room to breathe, and places no more than four words in one line. The poem begins slowly and warily; Armantrout must understand that the title of her poem is a bit off-putting. She writes, "It both hurtles/and fidgets,/otherwise/it's empty space?" (lines 1-4). The speaker is trying to make sense of a world, specifically of motion and space. Armantrout then goes on to reference another body trying to comprehend the world; she writes of a newborn encountering an object "blue/and feathery green" (lines 7-8), and trying to place it in this new world of new things.

Gaining intellect in the next section she writes, "Everything that stays/once meaning has cleared out/is true?" (lines 13-15). Even though Armantrout is herself unsure of this statement, were it to be true it would mean that truth relies on existence; "meaning" is merely a justification for existence. Meaning, how I believe Armantrout sees it, is asking "Why are you here?" rather than saying "I am here," much like the difference between one who seeks the meaning of life as opposed to one who accepts that there is a life to be lived.

I think the strange kitchen gadgets are saying "I am here." I have come to accept their existence, and have stopped asking, "What does this do, what is the purpose of this small metal/wooden/brown thing?" I will bang with something that is meant to be wound, I will flip with something that is meant to cut and there will be a harmony; that is, until the kitchen utensils and Armantrout, angry with me at my poor philosophical interpretation of her piece, revolt against me.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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