14 January 2012

Sky Harbor

In the opening poem of Miles Waggener's Sky Harbor (Pinyon Publishing, 2011), the final lines offer readers an image of "Two sparrows / ...trapped in the crowded terminal" (4); in many ways, one can understand this to be a metaphor for the entire collection: the natural world unwittingly "trapped" within a man-made creation, unable to escape its complex labyrinths.

The man-made creation—in the case of Waggener's most recent collection—is the poem, and the complex labyrinths are the sinuous and expansive syntactical structures that comprise the sentences within the text. Poems like "Ampersand in Mind," "Bird in a Box," and "Too Easy Questions on Lonely Roads," in fact, are all one sentence in length and unfold in various directions throughout the course of the individual pieces. But, even in the poems that contain multiple sentences, the syntax therein is still circuitous. Take, for instance, the opening sentence of the poem "Horse":
Among sixteen horses on the western slope
weathering sleet and sunshine, reflecting field-lit
contours, there is a first horse, one where I might
bring my face to its cheek, feel the eyelash of its thought,
see myself reflected there, hand extended—how it had seen
an early flash upon a winter clarity restaged on the iris
of its companion, and they whitened together in the comet's return. (9)
The digressions that the sentence makes necessarily "restage" "clarity" in such a manner that the "field-lit / contours" of the poem are illuminated just enough for the "iris" to discern the way, but not without having to carefully trace and retrace the intricate paths of its construction. To this extent, one can easily lose themselves within the poem if attention to its nuances are not minded; of course, if a reader moves through the passageways of these poems, then they are justly rewarded. When the speaker of the poem "Sky Harbor" asks "How else to bring what won't / come to us on its own / a bit closer" (3), it would appear that we know have an answer: trap it in a maze that is an ornate poem.

No comments:

Post a Comment