Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blood Honey – Chana Bloch

Chana Bloch’s strength lies in image and metaphor.  Her style of free verse is simple and fairly typical of poetry today.  Her subject matter, too—themes of life and death, family and culture—are not unexpected.  It is the sudden and surprising image or metaphor that begs to be read again and again--not from confusion, but from the sense that such a line needs to be savored--that makes her poetry engaging.

Wild Honey

A puddle of sun on the wooden floor.
The infant crawls to it, licks it,
dips a hand in and out,
letting the wild honey
trickle through his fingers.
Then a voice from on high—
Look at the pretty color!—
Wipes up the glory with a rag of language

A Life on Earth
An adult heart is the size of a fist, he said.

And what does the heart do?
Hoists itself up each morning into the weather.
A fist is not just a sign of defiance:
four fingers and a thumb can grasp.  And hold.

And what does the heart hold in that tight little fist?
The string of its life on earth,
taking the tug of it, letting it fly,
not letting it fly away.

Sometimes the surprise is more deliberate, and Bloch reveals a deft control over her words and an admirable wit.  One of my favorite stanzas, discussing her mother, reads:

Things are easier between us lately.
She’s not so carping. Is even willing to listen.
One would almost think death
had mellowed her. 

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