Monday, April 07, 2008

Poetry Month -- Day 5

Today's poem is "Anniversary" by Louise Glück:


I said you could snuggle. That doesn't mean
your cold feet all over my dick.

Someone should teach you how to act in bed.
What I think is you should
keep your extremities to yourself.

Look what you did--
you made the cat move.

But I didn't want your hand there.
I wanted your hand here.

You should pay attention to my feet.
You should picture them
the next time you see a hot fifteen year old.
Because there's a lot more where those feet come from.

--Louise Glück

Hachi machi! This is a sexy poem that isn't really about sex: it's about domesticity and commitment. The man allows his wife to "snuggle," but rejects her at the same time. The woman encourages him to think of her feet "the next time he sees a hot fifteen year old." What's the implication? That the feet are enticing, and are a counter to what the fifteen year old has to offer? Or is it that the fifteen year old, for all her supposed perfection, will someday have cold feet in inappropriate places in bed? Could be both, I think.

I like this poem a great deal. I love its perfect domestic situation. It isn't an argument so much as it is a playful moment in bed, a moment that only a couple who'd been together a long time could enjoy. The cat is what makes it. And how on earth could one get one's cold feet all over another's dick? Kind of odd positioning, no? It's an image that just leaps off the page, and one that sticks with the reader throughout the day. Masterful, really.

Louise Glück was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2003-2004, and she's won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. This poem is from a collection called Meadowlands.


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