Let me be a ''poet of cripples" not
a patient etherized upon a table,
not a brain floating within a body.
In a moment I must be a body
in the place incision produces in a body,
previously intact. Inert, poor body,
inarticulate. Pain flees from the word "pain."
Between meaning and the unmeaningable
is the trick of thinking I can fix what I can name.
Inertia insists on comfortable
contraries, less on chastened patients.
Let me be any other word, any other body:
stone, swan, sycamore. Perform patience
full time; retirement a normate luxury
I will not be afforded. My need to mean
alien to the pain, yet I remain, unseen.
Roxanna Bennett, "The Trick" from Unmeaningable. Copyright © by Roxanna Bennett. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Source: Unmeaningable (Gordon Hill Press, 2019)
- How does the poet attempt to translate pain into language? What are some words and phrases that stand out?
- What is 'The Trick' the title is referring to?
- What's the importance of naming in this poem?
- How does the word 'body' at the end of the lines carry the poem forward?
- Circle all words beginning with B and P in the poem. B and P are consonants that are often paired together because they take the same mouth position to say. How might knowing this impact your recitation and understanding of the poem?
- Pick two consonants to repeat and write a short one-stanza poem. Think about how you want your lines to end (annotated, parsed, or end-stopped).