I started reading this collection from poet Molly Peacock months ago, and then lost track of it on my shelf. I wanted to return to it before 2013 was over—and stayed up past midnight on Dec. 30 sampling poems, both “recent” (well, as recent as 2002) and selected (from as far back as 1975: what she and/or her editor consider her “greatest hits,” I imagine).
I loved some, but there were others that just left me staring at the page, thinking huh?. I tended to like the later poems better, such as “Conversation,” “The Soul House,” “Breakfast with Cats,” and “Why I Am Not a Buddhist.”
However, another favorite, “The Lawns of June,” is from 1980: a meditation on, or perhaps more accurately dissection of, suburban life, with its lawns of “thick chartreuse gouache” and “roads black as silk.” The final lines:
are love’s tired proofs: the badinage of wheel
and road and walk and lawn and drive and curb
and sign and line all flush, flushed with a soft
raillery of values laying the grids
we make with one another, a couple
talking in bed, water glass near
the Bible, a child’s torn bear in his arm.”
Peacock is a poet of the beautiful line but also of the bold idea. I liked her argument in “Why I Am Not a Buddhist”:
“But why is desire suffering?
Because want leaves a world in tatters?
How else but in tatters should a world be?”
An excellent question . . .