Friday, January 22, 2010

Poetry Friday: Creatures, by Billy Collins

Today's pick is for my daughters: for Anne-with-an-e, who at age 3 (and with the imagination of a poet) often saw faces in the whorling woodgrain of the doors in our house.

I was a sympathetic audience for her fears -- like Anne and Billy Collins in today's poem Creatures, the faces looked to me like something melting and Norwegian from Edvard Munch.

And today's pick is for Betsy, too, who did not react as Billy, Anne and I did.  Rather, Betsy has always seen sunny images in woodgrain -- smiling faces, kittens, and the like. She has the imagination of a poet, too.  Just a happier and less disturbed poet. 


by Billy Collins

Hamlet noticed them in the shapes of clouds,
but I saw them in the furniture of childhood,
creatures trapped under surfaces of wood,

one submerged in a polished sideboard,
one frowning from a chair-back,
another howling from my mother’s silent bureau,
locked in the grain of maple, frozen in oak.

I would see these presences, too,
in a swirling pattern of wallpaper
or in the various greens of a porcelain lamp,
each looking so melancholy, so damned,
some peering out at me as if they knew
all the secrets of a secretive boy.

(Read the rest here.) 

The Poetry Friday round up is at Liz in Ink.


Liz in Ink said...

I just ALWAYS love Billy Collins. Always.

Sara said...

I'm with Billy---I like to notice things, but I don't wanted to be *haunted* not even by wood swirls.

jama said...

What a great poem; the ending surprised me. That Billy . . .

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I've always seen those faces too, but never thought they were haunted. Well until today anyway...

Melanie B said...

I just love the line: "so it could live out its freakish existence
on the dark bottom of the sea"
I laughed out loud... to Ben's dismay.

Karen E. said...

I laughed out loud, too. And then made Atticus read it. :)

Mary Lee said...

I saw them in the linoleum patterns of my childhood kitchen and bathroom, and it was a comfort to me, knowing they were there, visible only to me when I let my eyes sort of go a little unfocused. Mine weren't ever evil or haunting, and I'm glad I never showed them to someone who might have explained them scientifically.

tanita davis said...

First: This one made me laugh right out loud, and I had to read it aloud for D. I notice faces in everything, too, and sometimes... *shudder*

Second: I haven't been to your blog in awhile, and I truly owe you an apology - I added it to my Reader, and it never picked it up for some reason, and then I wondered to myself at some point, "what the heck happened to Karen?"

Uh, nothing.
And she has a book out.
And though I am not Catholic, how I would love to read it. Hurray for you! Congratulations and confetti, and I'm so sorry to be completely late on this.

Thanks for making me laugh today.


Karen E. said...

Aw, Tanita, thank you! You're so sweet. You don't owe me an apology. :) And thanks for the hurrays and congrats and confetti -- never too late to celebrate the first book, right?

We've actually been talking about you this week, as Betsy just reread A La Carte, and the girls have been mentally casting the movie. :)

tanita davis said...

Oh, this is a cast list I'd love to see. Betsy cracks me up. :D

Karen E. said...

I'll have to ask who they came up with!