Today is all about the great Maggie Nelson. I decided to make this post about both of her poetry collections, because there aren’t enough days left in April to do individual posts. (Math clearly isn’t my strong suit.)
I have had something bright, then holes sitting on my bookshelf for far too long without reading it. After diving into it, I am so irritated with myself for not picking it up earlier. The poems are brimming with a combination of deeply personal explorations of desire, heartbreak, and resilience. Nelson balanced a gritty, visceral collection of unpretty poetry.
As summer thickens the garden gets
explosive, almost angry: tall, weepy
vegetables. You could break
a hard-won sobriety
just by looking at it. Look
somewhere else, for God’s sake,
look up. Which cloud
does God live on? The one
in the foreground, the gold one, the one
by all the mottled blue. In the morning
when we could finally see
you said you were trying to understand
my face. Or maybe it’s
the marbled one, the one that looks like Earth
as see from outer space
Sweet and Long
Tonight all sorts of ends
shift into view, as
lightning jerks around
the clouds. I could sink
into a certain comfort
here, just disappear
Yet I sense the goddess
gearing up to create
with one great are
of her arm. Just don’t
touch me, not yet, or
not here. Something inside
feels broken, a number
that can no longer be
dialed. I have desired
so many times and so many
things, by some law of no
return. But I trust I will live
in my skin again, if life
is sweet and long.
A perfect day at the canal, the sun on my back
healing me, or so I imagined. At sunset two women
took out the red canoe, just paddled around
Later I made you come down and look at the moon
thinking it might heal us, too, with its unbelievable pink
color. Yesterday we found something very hard
at our core, a fierce acorn. I don’t know
if we were born with it, or if its mass simply accrued
in the darkness. But I know the moon
has compassion for us. So does the water.
Bluets. Oh Bluets. “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color…” This collection explores love and loss through the lens of the color blue.
Nelson has a way with words. Her writing is both theoretical and visceral in a way that I find mesmerizing and very difficult to describe. She mixes these two parts of her writing so well that it seems easy and like her sentences just flow out of her. I truly am impressed with her work and cannot wait to pick up more of her writing in the near future.
38. For no one really knows what color is, where it is, even whether it is. (Can it die? Does it have a hear?) Think of a honeybee, for instance, flying into the folds of a poppy: it sees a gaping violet mouth, where we see an orange flower and assume that it’s orange. that we’re normal.
72. It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one’s solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem. Can blue solve the problem, or can it at least keep me in company within it? —No not exactly. It cannot love me that way; it has no arms. But sometimes I do feel its presence to be a sort of wink— Here you are again, it says, and so am I.
133. I have been trying to place myself in a land of great sunshine, and abandon my will therewith.
239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. “Love is not consolation,” she wrote. “It is light.”