Friday, November 6, 2009

What I'm Reading: Hunger All Inside

I did go ahead and start with Marie Gauthier's chapbook today: Hunger All Inside. Only recently have I grown to see how wonderful chapbooks can be. In a short sitting, I can fully immerse myself in one poet's work. The risk of interruption lessens and the ability to pause and re-read increases because of the limited number of poems.

Hunger All Inside is a poignant, yet unsentimental, collection of mother and lover poems. Many of the poems feature the speaker's interaction with her young son; others with her lover. Set in Massachusetts, the inclusion of the New England landscape provides a subtle subplot that comments on the main focus of human interactions.

One poem in particular stands out as more focused on the landscape than the humans in it: "Spring Pleiades." It is written in seven sections, of course. My favorite section is the second. Here it is in its entirety:


Manacles of ice broken,
mice nose about the clotted
meltwater, fields of early
meadow-rue and matted grass
moored by the bog. They dream a
memory of apples, wheat,
mulled heat of the late day sun.

Several of the poems deal with the fears that are born of mothering, the fears of what could happen to the child should the mother lose focus. "Gravity" is one of my favorites of these. It contains the following lines to describe the way a mother grabs on to her toddler's shirt, lest he fall: "Looping two fingers / around the collar of his shirt, / tether of tendon and bone... ." I love the image here of the extension of the body connection that is lost at birth.

Finally, I'll leave you with the ending of the last poem in the book "Summer, the air," which describes the toddler's blue popsicle-stained mouth as:

blue as the larkspur
flowering in long spikes

blue as the bucket
collecting rainwater

and rocks blue
as the sky leaching light

blue ice to salute
the end of winter's

long death to hail
the hot stalled days of summer.

(Apologies to Gauthier here. I couldn't get the lines to indent correctly. If anyone knows how to do that in HTML, please let me know. In essence, I need some tabs.)

Support Poetry! Buy or Borrow a Book Today
Hunger All Inside
Marie Gauthier
Finishing Line Press, 2009


Sean said...

Are the sections all begun on each line with a different letter? Do the sections spell anything? I'm just saying, that's a lot of M's. Hope you're enjoying your quiet weekend.

Sandy Longhorn said...

I totally forgot to mention that. Each section is 7 lines of 7 syllables, and each line begins with the first letter of the single-word section title.

Anonymous said...

Oh my heavens, I came back to tell you that I've had "The Interior Weather of Tree-Clinging Birds" on my desktop all day, where I've been reading & rereading it, each rich line, to find this! Thank you, I'm so glad you're enjoying HUNGER ALL INSIDE!

Re: formatting. It's a problem on WordPress too. What I've been able to do there is use periods to add the indentation, and then make the periods "invisible" by changing the text color of the periods to white. Imperfect, but workable.

What a lovely start to my weekend! Truly, thank you.

Sandy Longhorn said...

M. Glad to pass on the good poetry vibrations today! Lovely book, really. Thanks, too, for the tip on how you make the spacing happen. Definitely workable for future posts.

Enjoy the weekend!