occasionally the answer is provided

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Friday, January 25, 2008
I was thinking what I think every night around this time (what the hell will I post?), then remembered my weird Margaret Atwood Coincidencetacular. (which sounds sort of like it should be part of some surreal Truck Sales Event. I think it's the "tacular.")

ANYWAY, I was looking through a small notebook that has been lurking in the bottom of my purse and found a bunch of poems that I copied down in 2006 while waiting for a friend at the seattle public library. One of them was Margaret Atwood's Siren Song, which I like quite a bit although it's rather cynical and gives me vague feelings of feminine inadequacy. Where does the Coincidencetacular come in, you may ask -- I was processing books the other day at the library and came across a collection of Atwood poetry and opened it precisely to this poem, which was TOTALLY WEIRD since I hadn't thought about it at all for over a year until I found the notebook just a day or so prior. (p.s. I think what won me over on this one was the use of the words "feathery maniacs" together. "these two feathery maniacs" !!! )

Siren Song by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

I decided I would post the Atwood poem tonight but wanted to balance it with something a little less resigned to the stupid predictability of humanity and thought "maybe Simic" since I've been thinking of Simic lately. He seems a little more affectionate and forgiving toward the foibles of his fellow humans. Then, ta-da! into my inbox came the Powell's review of the day for Sixty Poems, a new Charles Simic collection! Woo hoo! That settled that. I dug around and found Cabbage, which I doubt is in the new collection but I don't care because coincidences only have to take me so far -- I can walk the rest of the way.


Cabbage by Charles Simic

She was about to chop the head
In half,
But I made her reconsider
By telling her:
"Cabbage symbolizes mysterious love."

Or so said one Charles Fourier
Who said many other strange and wonderful things,
So that people called him mad behind his back,

Whereupon I kissed the back of her neck
Ever so gently,

Whereupon she cut the cabbage in two
With a single stroke of her knife.
3 comments on "occasionally the answer is provided"
  1. The 1st poem we had to deconstruct last year in my poetry class was, of course, Siren Song. It was crazy how the younger the person the more involved and convoluted the "meaning" was. Ah, to be young like that. No thanks. I have never been a fan of cabbage so I don't mind the chopping in half bit. Especially with a single stroke. Of course I love what that little poem brought to my mind so early this day. But I shouldn't share such gruesome imagery so early.

  2. Ha! that's so funny about your poetry class. You were trapped with a bunch of feathery maniacs! I'm sorry if I caused a bad flashback for you.

  3. Most flashbacks are okay. I sort of fondly remember those young'uns. I hope I didn't roll my eyes too much in a visible, wait 'til you get older, sort of way. I hated that when I was their age, and now I find that I almost hate them at their age now. Well, not hate exactly. More like that uncomfortable feeling that I may have once been like them, I suppose. I shudder to think.