I found this to be a very touching poem. Again it avoids dealing with polemics directly, unlike so many of her other poems and, therefore, avoids the pitfalls of what I consider her lesser poems. While it may not achieve some of the transcendental moments of Calvin Spotswood or the title poem, still, in its desperate, poverty-stricken domestic scene it hits a chord and does so from beginning to end -
Burning in our twin scarlet fevers,
we were laid out, feet to feet,
on the worn, gold sofa, my brother and me.
The poem goes on to detail the doctor's visit (yes, this was in the time when doctors still made housecalls), the family's desperate circumstances - no food in the house, the father at a bar nursing a beer and a broken furnace and it was COLD. The doctor gives them each a shot and tucks the blanket more firmly around the children's chins and then
-for reasons I cannot
conceive, and so I call it grace-removed from his car's
dark trunk, thick platters old music encased
in paper sleeves.
And he plays for them the Nutcracker Suite. And listening, N concludes of her own body
Something had once been painted there beautifully
and with care. And it had worn away over the years,
or grown encased in a kind of shell?
And N realizes, that through the beauty of music she us able to escape the small tight space and in an orgy of exit the shell will crack open.
I think this poem is the most beautiful of her shorter poems in this collection.