The final sentence of this poem offers a
simile to describe the mother and then immediately rejects the
possibility of that simile. Is the mother fundamentally unknowable?
The mother is, at once, inescapable – so vast she has seeped into the
speaker’s entire world – and completely unreachable.
The verbs used to describe the mother (“smiting,” “taming,” etc.) place
her within an epic register, while the speaker occupies a decidedly
less lofty space of “toting lint” and insufficient jewels. Is the
speaker necessarily reduced in the shadow of such a figure?
Yes, if you think of reduction in the sense of distillation. You're
right, the mother exists within an epic register; not just in this
poem, but in the entire book (A
Botany of Limbs
from which it is excerpted. In the liminal space of gender transition,
the speaker is reduced to himself. & he has his own, differently
epic, but very much badass register.