And so to begin, most informally, not nearly completely, and frankly quite abruptly: “St. Roach.”
By poem’s end, we can’t quite be sure. A cockroach is invoked, which is clever–but it spoils the “troubled and witty” nerves of a shadowy thing standing by with emotional content. What does it say to us, this troubling glimpse of thoughtful darkness?
Ruke spots a line and catches it, stranding it down to a point where she clips, and doubles, then aligns this block. The effect is vertical, uninterrupted. Read it through and you are throwing these lines in symmetrically strung blocks of beauty and resentment, well played and expertly timed.
Do you know how to talk about this poem?
Though I don’t exactly, I can say with confidence something which seems to have little in common with an indispensable readerly tip:
Such a poem is not open to definitions, or to measurements.
The spirit of mathematical analysis is not welcome here.
Sure it can be done, but who’d want it?
The full Rukeyser text here
As for the last bit with which I so forcefully disagree:
I find undue creepiness in the first line that lingers until I’ve finished, by which point I can’t reconcile what I’ve already read with what I just took in:
//Today I touched one of you for the first time.
You were startled, you ran, you fled away
Fast as a dancer, light, strange and lovely to the touch.
I reach, I touch, I begin to know you.// (4)