The lines “flowers press furled heads as
/ roots draw strength from a corpse” remind us of Whitman’s “This
Compost,” or Bataille’s notions of life being derived from
putrefaction. Is that kind of paradoxical thinking important to your
That type of thinking is very important to my writing (if I possess a
“poetics,” I’m afraid it is invisible to me) but I have to argue with
the word “paradoxical.” The idea that life and death ceaselessly
nurture one another seems reasonable enough to me. The fact that our
consciousness would rather avoid direct acknowledgement of this flowing
cycle might be the real paradox. It’s perhaps our oldest survival
instinct—push out the thoughts of death and decay and get on with
living. It’s why, when we strike and kill the young whitetail fawn with
our car, we’re likely to shudder or even weep instead of rejoicing for
all the crows, buzzards, beetles, flies, etc that will eat well that
day. “Nature” is a merciless recycler. Everything wasted is put to some
use. Everything created steps out of the waste. An honest “nature poem”
should admit this reality.
“Of Season” uses the first person
singular and plural, a distinction emphasized in the contrast between
the lone hawk and the flock of pintails toward the end of the poem. Is
this poem in a certain way a meditation on individuation?
This poem comes from a series written in the aftermath of a mass
shooting several years ago. (I won’t name the exact tragedy in honor of
its victims, their families, and the community where it occurred.) The
series tries to dig into why the individual goes wrong, why community
is rejected, and how morals then dissolve. The poems also look to the
natural world for comfort but instead find mirrors. So I’d say
they’re more meditations on aberration than on individuation. The last
thing I hope to do is in any way celebrate the individuals who
perpetrate these unspeakable acts. There’s a fine line here, but it’s
part of the poet’s job to speak (or speak about) the unspeakable. “Of
Season” is a “meditation on individuation,” but specifically on the
negative potential for destructiveness in both the individual and the
group-mind. It’s a warning.
The italicized lines invite a number of
possible readings. Are these bits of dialogue spoken by an “other,” or
do they come from an even deeper, more inward source of articulation
for your lyric speaker?
The italicized voice speaks from within the speaker’s blood,
introducing arguments and corrections. I suppose it is the voice of the
collective dead of human history.