Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Echoes of childhood rhymes

For those of us who live and breathe mathematics, there is much of it that affects us deeply.  Even those of us whose mathematics is mostly arithmetic have a literature of number that we hold close .  And does anything affect us more than the counting rhymes of our childhood?  Washington, DC poet Rosemary Winslow uses emotionally-charged repetition of nursery-rhyme numbers to help us know incest in "Four Five Six." 

   from Four Five Six . . .

   she slid into the cold kingdom
   behind the blue curtain
   clump clump clump clump
   his boots coming

   she began --
   one two
   unbuckle the shoe
   three four
   open the door

   and she did
   and he did

   his heaviness against her
   five six pick
   up the stick
   seven eight
   lay it straight

   and she did
   and he did

   smoke in the room
   kerosene that smell
   seven eight
   open the gate
   and she did
   she flew without wings
   under the stairs
   an alcove
   honeycombs he kept there
   his thumping thighs erased
        . . .

The lines above are the first of four sections of "Four Five Six" -- found in Rosemary Winslow's collection, Green Bodies (Word Works Books, 2009).

No comments:

Post a Comment