29 March 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Sound Of Now, by Mary Cresswell

The Sound Of Now
First line from Marie Ponsot, ‘Reminder’

I am rich. I am poor. Time is all I own.
Time is fair. Time is foul. I am all I own.

Pale hands pick me up and let me down again.
I smell shit and Shalimar. I smell cologne.

No matter on which page you hide, in which book,
I’ll know your name when I can’t recall my own.

A sob?... no, it’s a stab of recognition.
The knife cuts deeper. My thought is all I own.

They called me Marīa when I read Latin.
In this place I have no name to call my own.

Until the end, the sound of one hand clapping —
In the trees, the toucan plays a slide trombone.

Credit note:Published in Ambit 199: 71 (London; Martin Bax and Carol Ann Duffy, eds.) and reprinted in her new collection Trace Fossils.

Tim says: There are two good reasons that this is my Tuesday Poem for this week: first, it's a fine and most elegantly constructed poem, and second, I am running an interview with Mary - my second interview with her - later this week on my blog. Keep an eye out for it!

You can read all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the featured poem is on the centre of the page, and the week's other poems are linked from the right-hand column.


Isabel Doyle said...

A fine choice Tim. The first cuplet ties up Stoic philosophy very neatly. And the last - the toucan plays a slide trombone - a counterpoint to the sound of one hand clapping.
Thank you for introducing Mary Cresswell to me. I look forward to reading your interview.

lillyanne said...

Golly, what an amazing poem, Tim. It takes - and deserves - several readings to begin to unpack its complexities, but I love it already. Thank you.

Helen Lowe said...

I like the 'offbeat-ness' of the poem and look forward to the interview.

Mike Crowl said...

I was enjoying this until I reached 'the sound of one hand clapping.' Seems to me this has become a cliche and it was a bit of a surprise to find it in a poem that's otherwise original in its approach.
Unless using a cliche was intentional, but....

Mary Cresswell said...

Mike, I used it advisedly. I was suggesting that while death itself is a cliche (one we can never re-word), toucans may know tunes we'll never know! Of course, I have never been a toucan and hope very much I am not doing toucans and injustice. :~)

Tim Upperton said...

... Admire very much the inventive use of the ghazal form.

Mike Crowl said...

Thanks for your additional comments, Mary. It's not often that I get a response back from the poet herself! But it's a good practice and clarifies things (for me, anyway).