Every work day of this month, I forward to the faculty and staff on my campus the poem of the day from Poets.org. Usually, nothing happens. Occasionally, someone will reply that the poems are too sad or too hard to understand. Twice this year I have received brief messages from co-workers describing how the day's poem connected to their life, past and present. These messages made me feel so good about being a poetry pusher.
Last week, state testing week which is always a stressful time, one of my co-workers started a poetry war. He shared a couple of funny poems last April and had shared one at the beginning of this April. Only one other co-worker had answered his initial call with an original poem, so he challenged everyone, complete with a menacing photo. At first, little happened, but then he made a male chauvinist comment in a new poem, and the poems started flying. Thursday and Friday afternoons were filled with volleys of verses. It was great fun! Some of my co-workers are surprisingly good poets and quick thinkers.
Today, things were back to normal. I sent out the poem and got no response at all. I wasn't surprised because I am not sure what to make of today's poem. I'm going to reprint it here and maybe one of my readers, all of whom are smarter than me, can help me figure out what it means or at least offer some suggestions. Maybe it is just a poem about a couple abandoning their baby, but I think there is something more going on here.
(I can't seem to make the spacing work right, so if you want to see how the lines should be formatted, click today's poem above.)
by Kate Northrop
The shadows of the couple
enter the dark field, cross
silent as a seam
having left at the center
a white box, white
as a box
for a birthday cake. Inside,
in the tall grass,
in the night wind,
he wants for everything: food, warmth,
But the world
swirls around the box. The world
like a forest goes on
and paths go on through it
each road leading nowhere, leading away
from the baby. Still
in the center of the field,
rises quietly. Grasses shiver.
Overhead, through trees
a sound approaches, like wings,
or this time, scissors.
From Things Are Disappearing Here, Copyright © 2007 by Kate Northrop. Reprinted with permission of Persea Books.