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The Monday Poem > The Lull by Maurice Riordan 27th October 2014

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 283 comments It happened on the cinder path between the playing field
and the graveyard one afternoon in October
when all the leaves of the aspen flipped over
and stayed, the way a skirt might blow up and hold
in a gust of wind – except there was no wind,
one of those days when the thud of a football
hangs in the deadened air. But there was no thud,
no sound from man or bird. So I’d swear if I’d looked
at my watch just then the digits would have stuck
if I could have liked, for it must’ve been a time
when time was snagged in its fluid escapement
and in that lull no one can enter the world,
or leave it; the cars stand on the motorway,
the greyhound’s legs are knotted above the track,
a missile is framed in mid-flight, no sound
comes from the child’s mouth, the open beak,
and the shoal of herring is a sculpted cloud
shimmering under the glass of the rolling downs.

At this moment, when the joker palms the roomkey,
the punching fist can be opened, the egg slipped back
under the nesting bird, and each of us could scurry
to forestall one mischance, or undo one wrong choice
whose thorn of consequence has lodged till now,
before whatever it is keeps the world scary
and true breaks loose. A squirrel turns tail
overheard, a chestnut rolls to the ground, and with
a drawn-out scream arrives from childhood.

message 2: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 283 comments Apologies for the delay - busy weekend!

message 3: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11537 comments Mod
Lovely choice.

message 4: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Lovely, thanks so much, Laurel. I especially like
'or undo one wrong choice
whose thorn of consequence has lodged till now.'

message 5: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Brilliant poem. Thank you!
It feels almost cinematic in it's imagery, as if I could actually see the world suspended mid-breath.

Such a powerful image it evokes. It made me think about how life sometimes feels like it's moving forward in the wrong direction, driven by a law that no-one claims to have ordered, made or wanted yet no-one knows how to break. There's beauty in the thought that each moment holds thousands of possibilities that may alter the nature of the moment entirely. There seems to be such longing in this poem to find a little loop hole to reset the course of it all. To find some sense of order again.

I really like how it leaves it all in suspense, I can almost anticipate the sound of it all setting back in and I imagine the film moving on might look different in every reader's head. I think this is one of the strengths of good poetry, literature and art in general, that it almost makes you co-creator because it leaves you with images that will transform into something new in your head.

PS: Laurel, this actually reminds me of 'Hitchcockean' a bit, you have a real nose for unsettling beauty!

message 6: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments By the way, do you know which collection this is from?

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurel, thank you for this wonderful poem. The part about "undo one wrong choice" rang so true. This coincides with the themes of a lot of what I've been reading lately. I love it when my reading falls into such places.

message 8: by Greg (last edited Oct 28, 2014 05:02AM) (new)

Greg | 7342 comments Mod
Very nice Laurel! I like the lines "shoal of herring is a sculpted cloud / shimmering under the rolling downs". Overall, I love this idea of experiencing a magical moment, a lull in the world's action & rules.

I don't know if I understand the last line, but I like it. What does everyone make of the last line? Is it the acorn that feels like it's arriving from childhood? Is the scream the child resuming crying which was frozen with open mouth in the first stanza? But what does that last line mean in general? Is it just a vague suggestion of all those unrecoverable things we wish we could have fixed in that magical moment, the sadness of the one wrong choice of the distant past that in the resuming reality could never be undone? Just curious what others thought because I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it.

Thanks for sharing Laurel! Another new poet for me. I'm so grateful for the Monday poem threads!

message 9: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I thought the last sentence from 'and with' onwards referred to 'each of us' from earlier. As the moments start again, we move from our childhood innocence to the reality of where we are now as adults.

But that might just be a load of gumph! It might mean something entirely different.

message 10: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Laurel, what a great choice for the end of October! I found that it started off as if it was going to be a spooky Halloween type poem and then the second verse about preventing "whatever it is keeps the world scary" from breaking loose sort of turns it around and yet reinforces the spookiness.

I agree with the others who have commented on the imagery.

message 11: by Laurel (new)

Laurel | 283 comments Sorry guys, I haven't been on my computer at all lately as work went a bit stupid but I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

I know what you mean Leslie, it's scary but it's not, but it is! To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I understand it, I just really liked the imagery and the idea of the stop-start motion of a moment being frozen then starting up again. I like Gill's explanation, it makes a lot of sense.
That last paragraph is amazing in my view, I love the idea of being able to slip back in a still moment of time and undo one wrong thing, but obviously this isn't possible so this is why I think he has the scream part at the very end - that 'thorn of consequence' is always going to break loose and make the world scary because it's already been done.

btw Jenny, I think this is from The Water Stealer but I have no idea what the rest of his stuff is like as I got this one from The Forward Book of Poetry 2014.

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