Showing 281 - 290 of 298 annotations contributed by Aull, Felice
Summary:A daughter is haunted by recollections of strife between her parents, now dead. She sides with her mother in the weekly disputes over money--the overt manifestations of a difficult marital relationship and a life lived on the edge of poverty. But in the end, she recognizes that her father "was the son of a needy father" and that her parents "were each other's bad bargain, not mine."
Summary:The "muck" stirred up in the deadwater of a murky lake is a metaphor for the stirring up of old hostilities between a mother and her now adult child. This subtle poem strikingly evokes the psychological history of a difficult family relationship and the precariousness of an adult truce, "a cloud of silt endlessly / raining itself out."
Summary:The physician narrator is trying to elicit information from a female patient. The reader isn't sure what is wrong. The physician seems to suspect that she is having sexual/marital difficulties: she denies it. Wondering whether "I could slowly pan, with ophthalmoscope" the physician envisions uncovering the evidence of separate bedrooms in the patient's eyes. But all he has to go by is the body language of the woman, who sighs and twists her wedding ring "anti-clockwise"--as if her life were heading in the wrong direction.
Summary:I have never written against the dead, says the narrator, but in this instance, the death of her grandfather, she must. Why? Because, ominously, "he taught my father/ how to do what he did to me." The poem moves from a startlingly literal image of nursing the nameless dead, to the pocketwatch which was sent as a memento after this particular death, to specific personal memories of mistreatment at the hands of the grandfather. The narrator cannot regret this death.
The narrator has experienced an epiphany in which she can understand objectively, even forgive, her father’s abusive behavior toward her. She has seen in her mind’s eye her father as a child, in the bleak household where "something was / not given to you, or something was / taken from you . . . "; she wishes that the love she feels for her father now could have nurtured him as a child and saved him from becoming an alcoholic adult who mistreated his family.
The narrator observes how her dying father is changing as he dies. She experiences the process as if she were giving cosmic birth to him,
and as if she could protect him in the safety of her womb.
This dead body is to be treated with respect, not to be left alone or to be donated to the anatomy lab, or for organ transplantation. For the narrator, there is little difference between this body of her dead father and the unconscious body she remembers from so much of her childhood. She cannot make the distinction emotionally between the dead and the living father, " . . . this was the one I had known anyway, / this man made of rich substance."
A powerful lament over a father’s wasted life, and the "purgatory" of living in a household dominated by alcoholism and marital discord. Strong and graphic language weaves a complex web of conflicting emotions: hatred and self-hatred, scorn and pity, condemnation and forgiveness.
Summary:The narrator describes the stages undergone by a person who has experienced great pain and suffering: numbness, loss of the sense of time, the great weight of depression, and finally a poetic comparison to the experience of freezing to death: "First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--."
Summary:A biologist stays up late into the night studying specimens under a microscope. As he studies, he imagines in the cells' beauty, wondrous mechanisms, and even compares cell division to the agony of birth. When he finishes his work, he encounters his wife and baby "waiting up for [him]" and expresses the same scientific appreciation for these human relationships.