The poem evokes an idyllic and pastoral time, when tall trees shaded the neighborhood streets and the sounds of children rebound from beneath the canopy. But the poem then folds in on itself and asks what is that memory? With tenderness, the poem examines what had once been expected, examining aspects of gender and knowledge, determining what is undetermined, and reexamining what had once been doctrine. With tenderness, the poem urges us to know that deep in the roots twining below our feet, what is vital is how we hold one another aloft.
The If/Then construction of the poem serves as the fulcrum for its lyric beauty, and I love how the speaker takes us through backroads and zip codes here and there across the landscape. Ultimately, the poem’s shift towards definition also creates a source of tension as the wisdom of and acknowledgment of a place also invites the sharpest scrutiny.
I enjoyed the gallows humor of this piece, but also the sharp lyrical twists of it with lines like “Songs I played in the background pierced tongues” and the opening line, “Sun did not earmark me its stunt double.…” Everyone is a suspect and the speaker, at the center of the drama, suspects everyone and invites the reader to share in secrets and conspiracies. A fun and lyrical poem.