These poems come from a larger series entitled “Griffiths.” Can you fill us in a bit about the project? Who is Griffith?
These poems come from a larger series I wrote some summers back while I
was living in Basin, Montana. I was reading a lot of old Scouting and
First Aid manuals at the time, and courting my partner. Griffiths came
rather quickly through town, and I felt I had to grab them. I was
thinking about safety, first aid, community, and how one recognizes and
is recognized. Griffith is less a person or character than a state of
being. I have to thank Amanda Lovelee, who hiked with me that summer
and drove me into town.
In your poem “Griffiths [In the parlor],” the speaker appears to relish
his/her condition of solitude (“no one else is here/to meddle”), but
the process of “letting down milk” implies that there is a baby
somewhere in this landscape. We love the tonal shift that occurs at the
word “chum,” but were wondering: This chum is being dismissed, but in
favor of what?
I thought about the relationship between milk and children. In this
poem I am both provider and providee. Letting down one’s milk is about
losing control over oneself in the context of romance and sexual love.
It’s about falling in love. In letting one’s chum go, one lets the
contents of one’s body out into the open, allow the beloved to either
swim on in or be repulsed. What is more likely to happen is both. How
one hides one’s revulsion is the first stage of a relationship. Milk
here is less about a baby than about one’s relationship with one’s
body, in the things that ingestion produces. The speaker is alone in
the parlor but in other rooms is partnered, siblinged, eaten and eating.