Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dorothea Lasky's Awe

Be scared of yourself
The real self
Is very scary. (“Whatever You Paid For That / Sweater, It Was Worth It”)
Lately I’ve been reading American poet Dorothea Lasky’s first trade collection Awe (Seattle WA/New York NY: Wave Books, 2007), after her chapbooks Alphabets and Portraits and The Hatmaker’s Wife. Lasky is the sort of poet that has been much discussed lately, with her first collection highly anticipated, and rightly so.


I knew that somehow in the midst of this confusion
Was the true dawning of myself.
My soul was a man and like a man
I would wander forever among the stars and flowers, lonely.
My heart a lonely star with no matching star
Anywhere in the universe and even so
Looking like a man for somewhere
To rest my freedom and resent it.
Lasky’s poems work both the amazement and the breaks; the chasms that exist between situations, moments and people and I am very taken with her use of the straight statement, the twists that come out into single lines. Lasky is a poet of amazing phrases and clear insights in such short, contained bursts, poking through and past what isn’t important, straight into the essence of things.


Some have described
The dodo’s beak as actually grotesque.

It was long, pale yellow, and crooked.
But what other thing is like that? The sun!

And the sun upon my winglets
Has made me something no other bird or sun can compare.

And in mediating myself upon the bird
I have found that I could actually love.

My love, what are you that the dodo isn’t?
Economy, the black mark on the sun,

The childless watch over the heavens?
Or is the dodo the thing growing from the sun spoke?

Yes, yes, that is you.

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