Monday, October 21, 2013

Topology for poets

The title of this posting ("Topology for Poets") comes from Maryland Poet Amy Eisner's poem "Lure" (offered below) -- a poem that plays with math concepts.  (In mathematics, "topology" is a variant of geometry in two shapes are "equivalent" if one could be obtained from the other by stretching or bending.)
It was my pleasure to meet Amy when she read in the Takoma Park Third Thursday Poetry Series earlier this year.   I like her work.  Enjoy!

Lure    by Amy Eisner

1.

My friend is crocheting a fishing line. This is not a gift and keeps no one warm.
This is withdrawing. Persisting in a flaw. Forfending.

She knows there’s something perverse in it. Like growing a mold garden.
Fishing does involve a hook, a line, and a net. But not like this.
The result, the crocheted line, is a large, lumpy object that contains nothing
or more of the same. You could also say that about a bunched-up blanket or a tree.

Question: what is the difference between a blanket and a tree?
Try to straighten it out.

Topology for poets:  A tree is a net. A blanket is not a net.
Still, you can catch someone in a blanket. In a tree you only catch them by accident.

And when you consider the netting, how it is enveloped by water, not merely entangled
but immersed, caught up most absolutely in the dreg…then water is a net as well,

drawn tightly around its catch

and fluency is the densest net.

2.

A month goes by, and the net is gone, replaced by a drawing of the net.
She is drawing it tighter, with pencil on paper, then shrinking the paper down.

She can do this while the TV is on.
She can do this with Shrinky Dinks.
It concentrates the line.

A day consists of many small actions—an infinite series,
infinitely small, so you get precisely nowhere
but approximately somewhere, if you squint.

3.

Correction: A tree is not a net. The shadow of a tree is a net.
And the dark lattice in the x-ray of your wrist.

And the cushion of mace that cradles nutmeg in its shell.
And the capillaries feeding your damp and dainty alveoli.

A bird, a map, a holy man,
a flower, a badger, a fugitive.

Some things bear resemblance; others remain in transit.
Do you desire coherence or suggestion?

Eisner's poem appeared in The Journal (Autumn, 2012); the artist in “Lure” is Renée Rendine.  To hear the poet read the poem aloud, follow this link.