A Lunar Baedeker

Mina Loy is a poet not quite like anyone else. She seems to have had at least four careers and nine lives. Still, her weirdly worded strange (and estranged) geographies penetrate places other poems don’t reach, and in this anticipate Elizabeth Bishop without sounding at all like her. Hardly surprising: she writes as if in a foreign language; from the far side of the moon. Where better then to look for poems about the moon than in The Lost Lunar Baedeker (Carcanet, 1996, ed. Roger Conover), which contains the best (and most openly, consistently edited) selection of her poems. The edition is like some of her poems, with the working on the outside.

I can’t make up my mind if the following moon poem is profound or mischievous. But then, it is perhaps as contradictory a poem as its contradictory parts, holding incompatibles in humorous tensions: ‘unendurable ease’, ‘thermal icicles’, and ‘inverse dawn’ (a dusk?).  Nor do I know what might lie beneath those three em dashes. Maybe they are naughty. Maybe not. This too makes them rather like the poem.

Moreover, the Moon –– –– ––

Face of the skies
over our wonder.

truant of heaven
draw us under.

Silver, circular corpse
your decease
infects us with unendurable ease,

touching nerve-terminals
to thermal icicles

Coercive as coma, frail as bloom
innuendoes of your inverse dawn
suffuse the self;
our every corpuscle become an elf.

~ by thebicyclops on July 1, 2012.

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