Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Envelope by Anna Jackson

I stick a stamp on an envelope.
It is a lake, a little glassy, and a mountain, behind the lake.
A little bit of lake is left behind on my tongue.

I would not like to be a fish in that lake.
A little bit of me would always be going missing.
I would always be leaving the lake for the mountain.

And now, it is several days later.
I am waiting for a reply.
Then I see that the stamp is still attached to me.

So that explains my demonic energy lately!
That explains how I rose so high so fast,
what everyone means when they refer to my depth.

But where am I being sent?
And when I arrive, who will open me?
Roughly, with a finger, or gently, with a knife?

                                                    Editor: Robert Sullivan

I selected this poem because it is from a brilliant new collection, Thicket (AUP). Anna Jackson is influenced by Russian poetic traditions following the Bolshevik revolution (although its declared influence is Virgil), and so she often informs her writing with an edgy danger, in this instance contrasting the roughness of fingers with the genteel ‘knife'.

Without wishing to explain the poem, I admire the several figurative transformations: the narrator into an envelope, the lake into saliva on the narrator’s tongue in which a fish struggles. Later in the collection there is a poem called “The Fish and I” reminding me about its many internal cross-references, as well as to other poetics.

"Envelope" is published on Tuesday Poem with Anna Jackson's permission.

There is another of her Thicket poems and more about her here on  Tuesday Poem. 

To read more Tuesday Poems, look in the sidebar where up to 30 poets from NZ, Australia, the UK, the US and Italy post poems by themselves and others they admire. The poems go up all through a Tuesday - in the southern and northern hemispheres.

This week's Tuesday Poem editor is poet Robert Sullivan of Maori (Ngā Puhi, Kai Tahu) and Galway Irish descent. He has won awards for his poetry, children's writing and editing. His most recent poetry collections:  Cassino City of Martyrs (Huia) and Shout Ha! to the Sky (Salt Publishing, UK). 

Robert co-edited NZ Book Award finalist Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri. He heads Creative Writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland, and  blogs here


Emma said...

Such a lovely poem. After hearing Anna read I can now hear her all through this poem. Love the looping back.

Claire Beynon said...

Yes, Anna!

Yes, Robert.

How much of our humanity is synthesized in the final two lines -

". . . And when I arrive, who will open me?
Roughly, with a finger, or gently, with a knife?"

Many thanks.

Helen Rickerby said...

I love this poem too! I've grown from liking it to loving it more and more with every read. I was fortunate enough to hear Anna read this at her launch, and it made it even more delightful and creepy.

Mary McCallum said...

Fantastic! I love the weirdness of it and, as you say, Robert, the transformations, which are fairytale-like. They make me think of that Baba Yaga fairystory where a mirror becomes a lake, a comb a forest etc. The final line is stunning and unsettling. Bravo. Thanks Robert and Anna.

Anonymous said...

Like it.Bravo

Jennifer Compton said...

oh i do like this poem and heard anna read it at her launch in auckland