I’ve been reading The Glimmering Room by poet Cynthia Cruz. It took reading several of the poems until she clicked with me, but now that she has I’m really enjoying her work. This is the poem that finally resonated with me and opened me up to the rest of the book.
NEW YORK STATE (4)
Beautiful and sad Sarah, girl
Ruler of the underworld. Strange
Saint of the otherworldly low
Weight. In mint panties and dreamed
Halo, waiting in the Arctic
Hallway for the morning weigh-in
With the rest of us.
None of us fit
For marriage, or for
For that matter. All of us dead
Or else hid in some mother’s suburb,
Somewhere. Expert only at
Wearing the war paint of
In preadolescence: skater-boy haircuts
And glitter-blue nail polish, holding
Care Bears and My Little
Ponies, wearing paper crowns.
The most striking thing for me is the juxtaposition of the dark imagery with the child/girlish imagery. Maybe dark isn’t the right word for it. Perhaps a better way to say it is the harsh vs. the innocent imagery. There’s also the clinical feel of the first three couplets, the “Arctic/Hallway,” that brings back every time I’ve ever had to be in a hospital. Then there’s the line “None of us fit/For marriage/Or for/Anything else/For that matter.” Marriage is the primary thing they’re unfit for, the most important thing they’re unfit for, and then almost as an afterthought, “oh yeah, we weren’t really good for anything else, either.” If you haven’t read this book yet, you should. Read it in your head, and then read it to the empty room. Chew the words and listen to how you spit them out. You’ll be glad you did.