Friday, February 29, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Bowerbirds by Dana Goodyear

Dana Goodyear is fantastic (that's not something I feel very often about contemporary poets).

The Bowerbirds
As if we were leaving
the small forest tower that we built,
with a moss carpet and mosquito chandeliers,
and laughing at it.
I can’t believe you used that word—
in an argument, no less.
But we would never break this way,
loose, affectionate, wry.
You straighten,
add an ornament.
This is somehow part of our staying.
If you left, a black cape would flap
like a crow winging,
and I would make a hundred harried calls.

The overarching metaphor leaves the world of human beings--and their effects--behind for the forest (a suitable place to forget everyone else for your lover, and yourself). On the other hand, an inner metaphor--"moss carpet and mosquito chandeliers"--reminds us of the world from which the lovers seem to have figuratively escaped. Will they go back to real carpets and chandeliers? An argument seems to have dissolved into humor; the narrator reassures herself that this means their love is not going anywhere. Is the "ornament" more language, something funny? What's the word her lover used--did he come up with the "forest" metaphor? Is that's what's funny? At the end I think of Dracula (a bloodsucker, like the mosquitoes)--it's the way the black cape, the classic implement of a dramatic exit, turns into crow's wings. But if he's wearing a figurative cape, they already would have briefly left the world of the Bowerbirds, so that he could return to bird-world alone. Perhaps these funny metaphors aren't so promising--he can leave her without leaving them after all.

Roundup hosted by Kelly Fineman at Writing and Ruminating

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