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Transom:
This struck us as a poem of inversions: the hourglass and the kitchen seem to turn upside down to “catch” the “wayward finch.” In what way is inversion like return?

Downey:
That’s a good question. Some things that cross my mind…

Sleep is an inversion like return. Swimming too. Getting a baby to smile. The migration of birds. To work a recipe from memory. Convalescence.

Maybe the concept of return itself is just an illusion, selfhood on its axis.

That paradox in life that seems to be the necessity of knowing a thing by what it is not, when it is not, where it is not. Our sense of beauty, sense of imagination, sense of home, these things are just measurements, soundings we take, of our comings and goings. You leave home to know home. But then by way of return it's not the same thing anymore, or you're not the same thing anymore, which is how you come to know it in the first place.

How does the Odyssey open, something like, “Sing to me of the man of many turns.”

I return to my desk. I trick myself into writing.

That when the prefixes drop away, there’s that connection at the heart of the words, verse and turn.

Two writers on inversions:

“I seek an extended period of time, free from all distractions, so that I may be free to be distracted.”
-Mary Ruefle                                                                        
 
“I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another.”
-Vladimir Nabokov

Transom:
In a traditional poem of praise, aspects of the beloved, like “hair” would be given celestial equivalents, but in your piece, “flour” replaces the stars we expect. Likewise, the sky is compared to a “kitchen towel.” What is the relationship of this poem to domesticity?

Downey:
I think the poem got started with me thinking about the moments when my wife and I are without our rings on a daily basis. Like I remove my wedding ring when I go swimming over my lunch hour. And she’s a physician, so most of the time at work, if she's got gloves on, she can't wear her ring. And then cooking anything messy is a kind of moment of disbanding together. The poem maybe started as a kind of song about the silly symbolic abandon of this. Not sure what other insight I have about it on the domestic front. David Bartone asks in a poem, “Why would you write a hundred poems for a lover and not for your home together?” I like that thought. The former, a type of poem in praise of another, the latter a poem in praise of one another. We build these understandings. To know through love by being known. I remember one winter I got in a snowball fight with some friends. I was throwing snowballs out of the doorway of my apartment and my wedding ring must have slipped from my finger because my fingers were colder and smaller, and anyway we all came in and were laughing about the snowball fight and I felt at my hand and started freaking out. I was desperately shoveling through snow outside in the middle of the night when one of my friends sort of revisited the snowball fight in her head and remembered hearing an out-of-place ding in the middle of it and inferred that the ring must have hit something metallic, and sure enough we found it under the baseboard heater, actually inside the living room. It was a great heroic moment.