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vkp Profile
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Huge small moments


I came here to the board today to post this thread and got wonderfully sidetracked by another thread in this forum. I love how that happens. But anyway, I woke up today to a poem in my email. Here it is, and a link to the poetry site.

Ring
by Melissa Stein

Control was all
I wanted: a handle
on the day, the night
when it curved,
when it swayed,
when I could sense
the teeming stars
in light, in dark
the sun’s bare wire.
Some switch
to turn it off:
each shadow
pinned to each tree
like a radius
of some infant’s
milk it spilled.
And the leaves,
their gossip
of claw and beak
and wind and heat
and wing. Tether
lake to bank and
cloud to peak.
And weather it.
Weather it. All this
to say I’ve
taken off my ring.
[sign in to see URL]

It got me thinking about how the smallest of actions can tilt the world on its axis. How does a writer write about the monumental tiny moments authentically and movingly without triteness or melodrama? I think Stein does a decent job of it. Does anyone have poems that you can think of that address a moment or action that is nothing in itself, but that has repercussions or meaning (for someone) that are giant, far reaching, profound?

I'm not really talking about little moments that get the poet or writer to ponder deep philosophical significances, like Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. But really the earthquake in the heart or soul created by something as small as removing a ring. (Then there's the madeleine in the tea, but that's another thing altogether...!)
Mar/22/2013, 7:26 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


I think you are wanting us to go philosophical about the poem. Life is full of punctuated moments, small and easy to gloss over, since, just that small. But I got to ask. How many times, for how many years, you suppose the poem's character lied to her situation before removing that ring? Poem is self-conragulatory, as it should be. But it doesn't strike me as a small moment. In the natural history of a marriage the small moments come on before. Maybe I'm missing something.

Tere
Mar/22/2013, 7:12 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
vkp Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


No, I am not looking for any parsing, philosophical or otherwise, of the poem posted, but only use it as an example of what I'm curious about seeing more of. The tiny act of removing a ring is not tiny at all. Thus "Huge small moments." A poem about putting on shoes, opening a window, making coffee, unpacking a suitcase, brushing teeth... I don't know, I'm not well read enough to have any pop into my head but would like to see poems about small moments that speak to so much more. I like what you call it: "punctuated moments."

I get a poem every day-- someone (parent of a former student) signed me up for a [sign in to see URL] service-- and this one did strike me, because I recognized the moment. I had that moment. I would maybe write about such a huge small thing in a story, but would not have the guts to tackle it in a poem, something so slim and vulnerable. And maybe she did not pull it off? Who's to say?

Last edited by vkp, Mar/22/2013, 8:43 pm
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Hi vkp,

I get what you are saying about "huge small moments." At first off the top of my head, I couldn't think of any poems to post here, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized capturing "huge small moments" is at the heart of lyric poetry. Then, Akhmatova's poem about putting her glove on the wrong hand came to mind:

Song Of The Final Meeting

My breast grew helplessly cold,
But my steps were light.
I pulled the glove from my left hand
Mistakenly onto my right.

It seemed there were so many steps,
But I knew there were only three!
Amidst the maples an autumn whisper
Pleaded: 'Die with me!

I'm led astray by evil
Fate, so black and so untrue.'
I answered: 'I, too, dear one!
I, too, will die with you…'

This is a song of the final meeting.
I glanced at the house's dark frame.
Only bedroom candles burning
With an indifferent yellow flame.

I like the poem you posted. I think it works. I especially like the repeated use of "and" before the breaking of a union the last line symbolizes.

I do like this idea for a thread and hope to add poems as I remember or run across them.
 
Mar/23/2013, 7:18 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Well here's a huge small moment I wrote about a few years ago--not that it belongs on the same page as Akhmatova--just seems to fit the concept:


"You never criticize my parenting
or the fact that I eat meat."

The statement offered like a long-stemmed rose
extracted from her sleeve

Too magical for common courtesy.



Last edited by Christine98, Mar/23/2013, 8:52 am
Mar/23/2013, 7:44 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
vkp Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


Great! Thank both of you, Kat and Chris! Different, for sure, but both poems are wonderful. Exactly what I was looking for. It's funny. So often I do not open my daily poem. Often they are disappointing, somehow, and sometimes they just get caught up in the clog of spam that comes into that email account. For some reason, I felt compelled to click it open yesterday and it was that poem that spoke to me and got me wondering. Maybe at some point this idea can be a Sunday prompt.

Thank you for keeping thinking, Kat. I'm going to keep my eye out too. About to spend two weeks with a good friend who is a poet and reads widely. I'll put her on the scent too!
vkp
Mar/23/2013, 8:05 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


Yes, this would make a good writing prompt--for Poetry Sundays or NaPoMo!

PS Might you friend like to join us here? It would be lovely to have a new member.

Last edited by Katlin, Mar/23/2013, 8:35 am
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Re: Huge small moments


Chris,

I like your poem and the casual way it reminds the reader of how uncommon common courtesy can be. I was reminded of this poem, which I first read years ago but which has always stayed with me:

Gratitude
Louise Glück (1975)

Do not think I am not grateful for your small
kindness to me.
I like small kindnesses.
In fact I actually prefer them to the more
substantial kindness, that is always eying you
like a large animal on a rug,
until your whole life reduces
to nothing but waking up morning after morning
cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks.
Mar/23/2013, 8:42 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


Playing the devil's advocate here, vkp. But I must wonder. Is it the 'huge small moment', viewed sui generis, that is interesting? Or is it this particular 'huge small moment' speaking to you since, as you say, it is a moment you've experienced? I think it is a fair question to ask of both poet and her reader. I mean, what exactly makes the moment huge? Anyone who has not had her own Proustean, madaleine moment might not get its significance and how a taste can bring back the whole of a man's memory.

Tere
Mar/23/2013, 12:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
vkp Profile
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Re: Huge small moments


Kat: I have spoken to her of joining the board before but will introduce it to her in person when I'm there. She's wonderful. Thanks for the Gluck poem. What a great way to convey indebtedness....

Tere: Makes sense and sure. That poem spoke to me particularly, but I guess if a poem does not carry over to any reader -- one who has not specifically experienced that particular moment or thing -- then it is a failed poem. We don't have to have experienced Daytona to feel the power of your poem about it, for example.
Mar/23/2013, 4:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 


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