Saturday, January 6, 2018

My Weekly Poem / Not My Poem: The Bridge / C.Dale Young

Dear Reader,

I think discovering a new, amazing poem (even if it is only new to you) is one of the great joys in life. The Bridge by C. Dale Young  is the poem I woke-up to this morning (you can stroll down and read it now, or wait) . And perhaps because in Seattle today, the sky is oatmeal-colored, this poem seemed even more shimmery.

It's clear from the very first line that Young is risking sentimentality with I love. Altogether love is repeated 14 times throughout  the poem --- a nod perhaps --- to a traditional love sonnet. It doesn't matter --- the pleasure of this poem, for me, comes from being able to luxuriate in the specifics: first of words (parallel and then mirror) and then quotidian objects (ice cream, fountain pens, bubbles). The poem is overflowing with pleasure.

There is a great deal of cleverness here to enjoy: the mirroring of mirror and the parallel lines in parallel, for a few examples, but I am not a fan of cleverness for cleverness sake (although it is certainly fun here). Instead what I admire here are the different declarations of love --- including love of self and other.

But what I keep returning to is the final image of the suspension bridge, the Golden Gate bridge, swinging over the bay.  I can see these two lovers holding hands, swinging their arms out the way one does --- with lovers, husbands, or small children. There is an innocence here and a desire.

C. Dale Young- Poet/Fiction Writer/Medical Doctor

As I read "The Bridge" I don't know where I am going ---Narcissus, Achilles heel, the 1950's? And yet, I'm invited along for the ride. The poem is so intimate and yet never private.

I've never met C. Dale Young (except on-line and when he was kind enough, years ago, to take some of my poems for New England Review where he was Poetry Editor for a long time) but through this poem I feel welcomed into his life --- into the joy he shares with his beloved husband (or so I imagine). I can't remember the last time I read a contemporary poem that did this and did this so deftly, so beautifully.

My hope is to discover at least one amazing poem to share with you each week. The best kind of treasure hunt. And in case you are looking for more of C. Dale's work, the Poetry Foundation website is an excellent resource.

Until soon~


The Bridge

I love. Wouldn't we all like to start

a poem with "I love . . ."? I would.

I mean, I love the fact there are parallel lines

in the word "parallel," love how

words sometimes mirror what they mean.

I love mirrors and that stupid tale

about Narcissus. I suppose

there is some Narcissism in that.

You know, Narcissism, what you

remind me to avoid almost all the time.

Yeah, I love Narcissism. I do.

But what I really love is ice cream.

Remember how I told you

no amount of ice cream can survive

a week in my freezer. You didn't believe me,

did you? No, you didn't. But you know now

how true that is. I love

that you know my Achilles heel

is none other than ice cream—

so chilly, so common.

And I love fountain pens. I mean

I just love them. Cleaning them,

filling them with ink, fills me

with a kind of joy, even if joy

is so 1950. I know, no one talks about

joy anymore. It is even more taboo

than love. And so, of course, I love joy.

I love the way joy sounds as it exits

your mouth. You know, the word joy.

How joyous is that. It makes me think

of bubbles, chandeliers, dandelions.

I love the way the mind runs

that pathway from bubbles to dandelions.

Yes, I love a lot. And right here,

walking down this street,

I love the way we make

a bridge, a suspension bridge

—almost as beautiful as the

Golden Gate Bridge—swaying

as we walk hand in hand.

C. Dale Young, "The Bridge" from Torn. Copyright © 2011 by C. Dale Young. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books.

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