201.1: Lily Clifford:: At Each Cusp of Wheat & My Death & The Day Never Comes & She’s Standing in the House She Built
25 January 2016
When I first read these poems by Lily Clifford, I responded: I'm going to resist the urge to tell you my reading. I felt that to tell my reading would be to reinscribe the author to Clifford, which seemed at best indulgent of my own narcissisms and at worst rather problematic. Or, as Clifford writes here, "each eye is called to sway, / again and back / the small quadrant of your desire for you." Instead of asking me to explain these beautiful poems as I read them, I realized that the poems were asking me to open myself and be receptive of them. These poems are sites of communication, yes, but a communication that happens through an insistence on listening rather than telling. I'm not told what to think by the poems; they ask me to listen and then think. I can't tell the poems what they mean; instead I ask if I can continue listening. And through this listening, I find myself pushed, pulled, and chopped apart and I don't even care if I will ever be able to put myself back together again.