Saturday, January 22, 2011

My New Favorite Poem

I've always used the term "favorite" loosely. I don't really like the word that much to be honest with you. I find it so limiting. When asked to choose a favorite color or food or movie or book, I invariably end up listing three or five or more. I guess this is my little protest against having to choose just one. Just check out the number of blog posts I've labeled "favorite poems" and you'll see what I mean.

There are, of course, a few instances where I do give only one answer. But ultimately I end up thinking of or discovering a different one within the next hour or so. (e.g. "No THAT one's really my favorite...wait, THIS one...wait...").

And then there are times when I'll choose a favorite and then push it aside for another favorite only to return at a later time and let the original reclaim the throne. This cycle can go on and on for me. And I don't see anything wrong with that.

If you're a teacher, you probably have a set of catch-phrases that you use repeatedly throughout the school year. One of mine is used whenever I introduce a book or a poem before reading it aloud. I always end up saying something along the lines of "This is my favorite book/poem ever and I just have to share it with you." My students moan (I think all of my catch-phrases elicit this response) and say things like "You said that about yesterday's poem." But it's true. I find new favorites all the time.

Now when it comes to poetry, my list of top five poets is pretty secure. You've got Collins and Merwin and Shihab Nye and Hughes and cummings...or maybe Kenyon or Kumin or Williams or Addonizio...

Anyway, I came across this poem in my daily email from this week and it immediately became my new favorite:

Rime Riche
by Monica Ferrell

You need me like ice needs the mountain 
On which it breeds. Like print needs the page.
You move in me like the tongue in a mouth,
Like wind in the leaves of summer trees,
Gust-fists, hollow except for movement and desire
Which is movement. You taste me the way the claws
Of a pigeon taste that window-ledge on which it sits,
The way water tastes rust in the pipes it shuttles through
Beneath a city, unfolding and luminous with industry. 

The poem turns slightly at this point, so you'll want to read the rest of it here for sure.

I wonder who the poet is speaking to here--a lover? a child? I also am unable to puzzle out why the poem is called "Rime Riche." There must be some wordplay I'm missing. Makes me want to spend a lot more time exploring this poem. Overall, it's the comparisons (like the ice needs the mountain) and the unique personification ("gust-fists", "water tastes rust") that get me. Without a doubt, this is my favorite poem of all time. For the time being.

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