Space of the Poem

Yes, the poem lives in the breath, but it also describes space on the page and is as much a room as a universe. Glück’s “For My Mother” (The House on Marshland) gives us this:

…And then spring
came and withdrew from me
the absolute
knowledge of the unborn,
leaving the brick stoop
where you stand, shading
your eyes, but it is
night, the moon
is stationed in the birch tree,
round and white among
the small tin markers of the stars:
Thirty years. A marsh
grows up around the house.
Schools of spores circulate
behind the shades, drift through
gauze flutterings of vegetation.

See the dimensions expand, disappear? Notice the cherished objects—“house,” “mother,” “marsh”—inhabiting the space concomitantly, in a way also made richly evident in Richard McGuire(et. al.)’s graphic statement, Here. Of course, the paradox is that this space is not an area into which we can step. It occurs within us, it consumes us. We conceive it and it conceives of us. In art, we can describe its height, width and breadth, but only for an instant as it constricts or explodes, changing as we change.


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