Kirchwey, Karl

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.
  • Date of entry: Jan-29-1997


Like Paul Muldoon's Sonogram (see this bibliography), this poem was occasioned by the poet's wife's ultrasound of their first child, Tobias. (See pgs. 258-259 of the anthology for a description of the poet and his comments on this poem.) "Sonogram" is alternately lyrical and bright ("through succulences of conducting gel") and dark (" . . . or sinuses of thought / like Siracusa's limestone quarries, where / an army of seven thousand starved to death.") The language is highly poetic (and successfully so) in conjoining the worlds of medical technology and poetry ("or alveolus in a narthex rose") and playful ("God's image lies couched safe in blood and matter" punning on "vouchsafed").


It is interesting and instructive to compare Muldoon's and Kirchwey's poems, each marveling at this technological imaging of their unborn children, each giving us his verbal description of a late 20th century image of a biologic creation.

Primary Source

The Best American Poetry 1995


Simon & Schuster: Touchstone

Place Published

New York




Richard Howard & David Lehman