Sunday, May 11, 2014

Anne Carson's branch and my breast

Anne Carson may have been using an analogy when she talked about the project. One branch on one particular tree and a new poem written every day, honing down to the specifics, seeing a thing anew each time. An exercise that may be an invention for a poem which is fictional although it resonates like truth.

I read it walking to work. An hour, with a book clutched in my hand, one eye on the path before me, and more than half of my attention stolen by a recent grief. I glanced a tree with my shoulder. I almost but didn't trip off the path. All other moments in the real world are erased or never came to my attention, just this one throbbing idea remains like a bruise, a fresh wound. A new poem every day about a small thing, something barely worth noticing, noticed, repeatedly and with such detail.

This thing I must do.

Not a branch then as my life here seems impermanent. The only thing I take with me is my body. This body. This one ever-changing part of my body. My breast.

I need a new place for this exercise. I need to quarantine my breast into a space of its own. I will examine it. One small observation, or long, or just a word. Each day, the differences detailed beginning now.

When I walk reading poetry the meaning of it is drummed into my body with each step. Like learning lines for the stage, I take a part of it into myself in step with my forward motion. I take her branch into me and I cup it into the palm of my hand and my nipple opens like a bud unseasonably at the beginning of a colder season.

What becomes of a breast over the days and years and decades I have left? Is it cut from me? irradiated? nuzzled? pricked with cold. Do I notice the sag of time, the skin that grows inelastic, the ineluctable dance of time? Come with me and gaze at it, touch it as you might in self-examination. Or don't. You may have your own branch or breast or sky to attend to. Or you may be content to read the changing of the seasons in a branch in The Beautiful Husband by Carson herself.

Either way, it is here.

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