I was first introduced to Anne Carson through If Not Winter, which is an original and artistic presentation of the incredible fragments of the ancient Greek poet, Sappho. Then I learned that Carson writes poetry of her own–complicated, seductive, unbelievably intelligent poetry. I loved Autobiography of Red, a novel in verse that looks at the myth of Geryon and Herakles from a fresh, modern point of view… and I was confused but in awe of The Beauty of the Husband, a 29-part poetic tango about love. In honor of her reticence, I will provide you with the only sentence she allows on her back bookflap: Anne Carson Lives in Canada..
And now, two of her poems.
“Lines” from Decreation
While talking to my mother I neaten things. Spines of books by the phone.
in a china dish. Fragments of eraser that dot the desk. She speaks
of death. I begin tilting all the paperclips in the other direction.
the window snow is falling straight down in lines. To my mother,
lof my life, I describe what I had for brunch. The lines are falling
now. Fate has put little weights on the ends (to speed us up) I
to tell her–sign of God’s pity. She won’t keep me
she says, she
won’t run up my bill. Miracles slip past us. The
are immortally aligned. God’s pity! How long
it feel like burning, said the child trying to be
“The Blue Cardigan” from Men in the Off Hours
Now it hangs on the back of the kitchen chair
where I always sit, as it did
on the back of the kitchen chair where he always sat.
I put it on whenever I come in,
as he did, stamping
the snow from his boots.
I put it on and sit in the dark.
He would not have done this.
Coldness comes paring down from the moonbone in the sky.
His laws were a secret.
But I remember the moment at which I knew
he was going mad inside his laws.
He was standing at the turn of the driveway when I arrived.
He had on the blue cardigan with the buttons done up all the way to the top.
Not only because it was a hot July afternoon
but the look on his face—
as a small child who has been dressed by some aunt early in the morning
for a long trip
on cold trains and windy platforms
will sit very straight at the edge of his seat
while the shadows like long fingers
over the haystacks that sweep past
keep shocking him
because he is riding backwards.