Marianne Boruch in NER

Faculty member Marianne Boruch’s critical piece “The End Inside It,” which she delivered as a lecture at the January 2011 residency, appears online and in Volume 33 of The New England Review:

On the radio, Merce said, Do it backwards.
Jump first, then run,
even when it was just with his arms, when he got old,
even if some people hated it.
—Jean Valentine, from Break the Glass

Or closure, as it’s called among poets, but not a “we need closure on this” sort of thing, certainly not that cheap and cheesy “because we have to get on with our lives,” though at the end of all poems is the return to the day as it was, its noon light or later, supper and whatever madness long over, reading in bed those few minutes, next to the little table lamp. But to come out of the poem’s tunnel of words—the best way is to be blinking slightly, released from some dark, eyes adjusting, what was ordinary seen differently now. Or not. At times the shift from reading to not reading is so graceful it’s transparent, the poem itself Robert Frost’s “piece of glass” skimmed from winter’s icy drinking trough and held up to melt and melt the real world into real dream, then back, his moment of clarity unto mystery returned to clarity again. Of course, that actual gesture comes early in his “After Apple Picking,” a poem full of what might “trouble” his dreams in the wake of such hard work. Its last line is one low-key gulp, his “Or just some human sleep” itself following something about exhaustion more wistful and weird: “Were he not gone,/The woodchuck could say whether it was like his/Long sleep, as I describe its coming on…” As in—hey! Let’s ask this woodchuck here, shall we? And how absolutely odd and brilliant that we never see this move as comic, though it could be right out of Bugs Bunny or The Simpsons, depending on when you started to find things funny. But Frost isn’t funny, at least not in this poem, where sleep isn’t exactly sleep either...[Keep Reading]…

Marianne is the author of The Book of Hours (2011, Copper Canyon Press).


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