Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reading with Jericho Brown

MLO: Check out this poem by Toi Derricotte on mmmm.

Toi Derricotte

i scare me, moon
with your big yellow self
low on the horizon
tonight you are smiling
with your deep shadowed eyes
i don't have a mother
she has flown off in the sky

JB: what do you make of it?

MLO: that it's about her mother dying. what do you make of it?

JB: it's clearly about her mother dying, mendi. come on, she's Toi Derricotte. the poem's short. Let's work it out. Is the moon the mother or the self? Why the syntax of "i scare me" ? Why the lack of puctuation?

MLO: ok bebe. the moon is the mother and the self. they are both the same, the moon is scaring the moon. it aint reflexive cause it's a fragmented self, part of the self in the sky. i think the one comma is to let us know that it's not that i scare "me moon", that me aint an adjective, but the rest of the punctuation lacking is maybe about the slipperiness between mother and self. what you think?

JB: i'm interested in the tone of the poem. i can't tell whether it is sad or at some point of contenment. i think it's both. and i like that. i get that from the "tonight you are smiling" which gives a feeling that's almost contradictory to "i don't have a mother." you're definitely right about the split from the self after the death of the mother. but, mendi, and you know this is what's most important to me, how did you feel after you read it the first time? can you remember? can you describe for me what feeling was there and how you think the poem got you to it? i smiled. "she has flown off in the sky" made me feel sweet satisfied smile. this is what the lyric poem is about. i think. it seems that not having the mother is worth seeing her in the moon, is worth knowing that she's flying. that's beautiful smile. that's beautiful and full of giving. am i making sense?

MLO: yes you are making sense. you see, when i first read it i felt
struck, like, i put my hand to my chest, but i think it had a good deal to do with the impact of her saying anything about her mother. and then i was thinking, good, i'm glad she can write about it, is writing about it. i agree with you about the smiling making some sense of contentment. what i love about "i don't have a mother" is that it makes me think there is a sadness because the mother is gone, but i also hear in those words: "i have a moon", maybe i scare me is about being scared to be content with this state of things?


Anonymous s. said...

Not sure if you want comments, but the poem made me smile and think of a lovely moment in a film by Miguel Arteta. Lysa Flores plays the daughter of Martha Velez; there's an early moment when they sing about the moon together while hanging laundry. At the end of the film, Martha has died and Arteta shows her spirit going to join her favorite Mexican comic Cantinflas on the moon....

The song they sang is "la luna" (the moon):

mi vida escondida
en la esquina de la luna
mi alma luce calma
en la luna
en la luna

si sueño me mantengo
con el dueño de la luna

pero un ladrón
robo mi corazón
y la entregó a la luna

la luna la luna la luna
la luna la luna la luna…

--Martha Velez & Lysa Flores,
Star Maps soundtrack
(dir. Miguel Arteta, music by Lysa Flores)

[my crappy translation]

My hidden life
in the corner of the moon
My soul shines so calmly
on the moon, on the moon

when i dream,
i'm with the keeper of the moon
a thief stole my heart,
and flung it at the moon

the moon, the moon, the moon...

3:00 PM, April 21, 2005  
Blogger Mendi O. said...

thanks for this beautiful poem. i love thinking about the ways that one poem's image may rub up against another's. yes, i will think of the two as connected . . .

12:39 PM, April 23, 2005  

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