Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Timothy O'Keefe in 32 Poems

Thank you to everyone for wishing me a speedy recovery. I am still in bed with a sinus infection. Fortunately, I feel well enough to blog today; and fortunately, I received the new issues of 32 Poems and The Antioch Review last week. This poem by Timothy O'Keefe is on page 12 of 32 Poems:


A clear-gold cicada shell
hooked hard to wet bark.
Center-split: antennal
to lower thorax. Molt-clean.

its clutch in the dark.

a body-peek green.
a droning wind-hinge.
A fingerful of sudden wings.

Timothy O'Keefe

This poem appeals to me both for its literal description of a cicada shell and for the figural depiction of the sensation of love. I used to find these shells all the time when I was a kid; when I found one, it scared me, until I got up close and saw it wasn't a live bug.

Imagine that instant when the cicada emerges--green, raw, unfolding, then suddenly flapping with new life. Now read the poem again, as if it were not about a cicada shell at all, but simply a description of love: clutching, split, clean. Green, fresh, and new. A droning just below your surface. A sudden flutter of wings just barely in your grasp.


skarr said...

Thanks for commenting on my review. I'm also a writer and you may want to check out my book also which contrasts the barbarian and Roman cultures. This is a novel set in 120 BC.

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

I'm glad you're feeling better. We've had two instances of cicadas that I remember. I've never read a poem about its shell! Thanks for the exposure. After more paintings and jewelry sell, I'm looking forward to subscribing to some of these poetry magazines you recommend. Keep getting better.

ladydaria said...

Beautiful writing, feel better soon.


MB said...

Sinus infection: YUK. Poor you! Get better soon.

I like this poem as a metaphor for all the ways, forms and stages of love.

Also because I was fascinated by cicada shells as a child. I remember prying them ever-so-carefully off the bark and keeping them for a long time. Fascinated by the perfect content-less transparent form. Always wondered how they got out without the shell collapsing.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing a bit of sexual imagery in this, too. I like that the writer chooses cicadas. Rare, initially frightening, not what it seems...

MB said...

Oh! I hadn't even caught the sexual aspect. But, of course! Thank you, TLR.

Josse said...

I appreciate the way you offer up your take on the poem. It helps me to enter the world of poetry more deeply, instead of skimming over, too lightly.

Amy said...

Hi everyone,

I agree about the sexual imagery. That's actually what struck me first, but I think the title swayed me toward a more general interpretation.

Thank you for your careful readings and insightful comments! I am always happy to have a new way to look at a poem. There is only so much we can do on our own.

Anonymous Poet said...

Get better!