Thursday, April 17, 2008

one more from Matthea

Museum of the Middle

You're walking down the middle of the road when you start sinking.
Each white stripe gets successively softer, like strips of gum left out
in the sun.  You pass daffodils, coffins, and fossils until you're at the
earth's core.  The doorknob burns your hand but inside is the usual
cool, museum-ish hush.  A tapestry (2' x 48') charting the rise and fall
of the middle class is backlit so that the stitched line fluoresces like a
heartbeat on a monitor.  Most prized is a worm segment in the foyer,
a pink accordion mounted on black velvet and framed in gold. They
say a worm can live if you cut it in half but not if you extract its exact
middle.  In the next room and spilling into the one after that is the
ever-expanding gallery of middle-management--almost all white
men.  Today there are two special exhibits--to your left, Hermes
and Other Intermediaries; to your right, The Middle Distance: For-
gotten Focus. In each painting, the foreground and background have
been blacked out, leaving fragments of fields, flagstones, the occa-
sional midsized sheep.  But why are you here? Do your parents love
you exactly 5 % less than your brother and 5% more than the dog?
What museum-worthy mediocrity do the curators see in you?

from Modern Life

Reading Harvey's latest is a graphic experience. I'm learning how to lighten up. 
Not that she's funny haha. Rather that she's looser and kind of darkly playful 
in her associations and subject matter. Some of it is spookily goofy, 
if that makes sense.  Anyway, good reading.

4 comments:

Christine said...

Yes, you're right -- darkly playful. Black humor is a great tool in both poetry and life. Dappled light: curdled sun that doesn't forget the shadows.

Pam Hart said...

"Curdled sun"--very cool concept!

Emma Bolden said...

I adore Matthea Harvey! Reading her is, without a doubt, an experience -- her poems seem to rearrange the brain!

Pam Hart said...

You are right Emma. Harvey's poems do have me looking at things in an off-kilter, skewed and great new way.