Friday, April 25, 2014

Too many selves

In my childhood home, numbers were used with care and precision.  There would be teasing when I would use the adverb "too" --- as if when I said "I had to walk too far" I had tried to describe an unbounded distance, greater than any possible span.  Now as an adult I continue to be cautious (and intrigued) with use of that word.  And I am drawn to the uses of "too many" and "count" in the following poem from David Orr, poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review.

The Chameleon    by David Orr

Alone among the superheroes,
He failed to keep his life in balance.
Power Man, The Human Shark--they knew
To hold their days and nights in counterpoise,
Their twin selves divided together,
As a coin bears with ease its two faces.

Not so The Chameleon. He was
Too many things to count, and was counted on
To be too many things. When he came to grief,
As was perhaps inevitable,
His body was overlooked for hours,
Having been pressed by force of habit

Into the likenesss of what had killed him.

David Orr is Poetry Editor for the Times Book Review.  This poem appeared in The New Yorker on 6 February 2012.  Here's a link to articles and more poetry by David Orr.

No comments:

Post a Comment