Kay Ryan sits very near the top of contemporary poetry’s list of “must-read” writers. Sure, recommending a two-term former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author should come as no surprise. But Ryan is also a poet to present to those who have no relationship with poetry.
Her work has many layers, and perhaps only seasoned readers will reach the deepest ones. Yet, the first surfaces of her poems are touchable. By no means facile, her work is quick to convey a mood. This might be due to the fact that, as she’s said in the past, her poems develop “the way an oyster does, with an aggravation.” And everyone can relate to aggravations.
For me, the poem below conveys the suspense of a move. In a few lines, it narrates the small household chores one focuses on before a move so as to ignore the finality of leaving. One counts the forks and the spoons, but doesn’t envision getting the bed down the stairs.
There are charmsthat forestall harm.The house bristleswith opportunitiesfor stasis: refoldingthe linens alongtheir creases, keepingthe spoons and chairsin their right places.Nobody needs towitness one’s exquisitecare with the napkinsfor the napkinsto have been the actthat made the factunhappen.
This post was originally published as part of Zeteo Journal’s Zeteo is Reading Section.