Monday, January 09, 2006

Esther’s Classes, Trigger poem by Cathy Song, Week of Jan. 9, '06

A Poet in the House

Cathy Song

Emily’s job was to think.
She was the only one of us
who had that to do.
- Lavinia Dickinson

Seemingly small her work,
minute to the point of invisibility –
she vanished daily into paper, famished,
hungry for her next encounter –
but she opened with a string of humble
words necessity,
necessary as the humble work
of bringing well to water, roast to knife, cake to frost,
the course, loud, grunting labor of the rest of us
who complained not at all
for the noises she heard
we deemed divine, if
claustrophobic and esoteric –
and contented ourselves to the apparent,
the menial, set our heads
to the task of daily maintenance,
the simple order at the kitchen table,
while she struggled with a different thing –
the pressure seized upon her mind –
we could ourselves not bear such strain
and, in gratitude, heaved the bucket,
squeezed the rag, breathed the sweet,
homely odor of soap.
Lifting dirt from the floor
I swear
we could hear her thinking.

Cathy Song, in Sweeping Beauty: contemporary women poets do housework, ed by Pamela Gemin, Univ of Iowa Prss, 2005

If anyone can figure out why the poet wrote the following lines in just so fashion, please let me know:

but she opened with a string of humble
words necessity,
necessary as the humble work

Don’t forget: CLL’s Women Writers Reading Series begins Jan. 18th at Ravenna 3rd Place Books, 6 pm. Sign up with Esther


Anonymous said...


Thank you for beginning the New Year with this wonderful poem!

Trigger poem: “A Poet in the House” by Cathy Song, presented January 9th, 2006, inspired me to write:

Poet’s room

Carpe diem…
moments in my life change,
in shape, sound and memories,
The “consummate” closet thinker…
“Poet” of a free world,
striving for some sign or
that brings forth a flood of emotion,
spilling over and bubbling like a brook…
streaming words together,
woven, enter twined -- enmeshed
in the darkest recess
of my mind, time and space,
taking the air from one room,
thrusting it into my study…
where books, ideas and thoughts abound,
in circles, spinning, a cacophony of notes a round,
swatting cobwebs revealing mysteries,
into the light where,
even the “White Glove” can not separate --
The dirt from the dream.

Jannat Bey
January 9, 2006

Anonymous said...

Those lines are written in such a way to set up the importance of her work. Poetry is being compared to house cleaning, but house keeping is being down played. Those line make the suggestion that her poetry was more important than keeping up the house, but she was not arrogant about the importance of the poetry.