Original poem reprinted online here: "Detail of the Hayfield" by Richard Siken
Originally read: February 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Richard Siken
Past me wrote this down about the last line of the poem, "The last line utilizes the duality set up in the poem," I thought about what I wrote. What I wrote wasn't very clear. It doesn't point to the duality in the poem. And after reading the poem, I'm pretty sure there isn't much of a duality in the end -- rather it's the speaker trying to condense two parts into one.
The poem starts off with an observer perspective, "I followed myself for a long while, deep into a field." The lines sets up a somewhat surreal, yet objective experience. The "I" observer acknowledges the surrounding but the followed "I" doesn't seem to have a consciousness yet. The next line, "Two heads full of garbage" shows a certain filter. The "I" whose head is garbage observer only subject at this point is the "I" followed whose head is also garbage -- a self perpetuating image.
The next two lines, "Our scope was larger than I realized, / which only made me that much more responsible" is very general. I feel the followed "I" is the action of the poem, so does that make the observer "I" the subconscious? The shadow? I was thinking about this when I got to the fourth line -- what is the observer responsible for? To balance out and justify the actions of the followed. Perhaps. I'm not to sure. However, on the page, the observer "I" has to take more responsibilities the larger scope.
Then there's a break in the poem focusing on color which is the hayfield all around them. And, at this point, both the observer and the followed have the same action, "We stopped. We held the field. We stood very still." It seems like action and thought come together as one for the singular line, "Everyone needs a place"
From here, the observer "I" details out what the followed "I" can do, "You need it for the moment you need it, then you bless it -- thank you soup, thank you flashlight" And here I feel that the followed being grateful towards objects shows the "head full of garbage." The term can be looked at maliciously (especially in the beginning) but applying the term to this moment shows an appreciation for the simple things.
Yet the observer I has a more judgmental stance with the last line of the poem, "and move on. Who does this? No one." I remember the reason I chose this poem was because of the last line. I thought it neat that the last line refers to a greater social norm and the observed "I." Yet the tone is one of disbelief or rather finding a type of person like the followed and not finding any value in the followed.
So it's not a duality in a sense of two contrasting characteristics. The core of the poem is "Two heads full of garbage" and where the term applies.