Original poem reprinted online here: "In Portraits in Seasons" by Danielle Pafunda
Originally read: May 23, 2013
More information about the Poet: Danielle Pafunda
One of the notes I wrote for this poem was, "Eckphrastic -- look up." I wanted to figure out if this poem related to an image; however, rereading this poem, the fragments construct the emotional impact of the poem, but I'm still curious on where the emotion is directed.
The opening couplet starts out with the fragment "As a feral thing would." Usually, I would try to connect the title in with the fragment, but their doesn't seem to be a logical syntactical connection between both. Rather, there's two different moods going on. "In Portraits in Seasons" brings a more relaxed, visual mood; meanwhile, "As a feral thing would," contrasts the mood through tone -- a feral thing would do...what? The speaker already has made a judgement on something.
The next line sort of focuses the line, "As a dead leaf / whose crunch she herself hears," The line brings the poem to the present, but also note that the "nature" image of "dead leaf" is heard by "she herself." Syntactically the line acts both analogous and observant. Yes, the she hears the crunch, but also herself is a diction choice that brings in (forcefully or subtly -- I haven't figured as much) another focus on the self. And yet the next line doesn't interact with the previous one, "whose / buggy interior floods the sidewalk." Whose interior?
The poem continues with disjointed fragments, and in the third stanza there's a focus on the you, "Where you've tucked your pen into your notes, / I tuck my fingernail," The disjointedness becomes a little more focused as opposition. Why? I'm not sure. However, what the non-sequitur lines bring is a sense of confusion which amplifies the mood and tone of the poem. If there's nothing left to rationally think of, think emotionally.
The speaker victimizes and describes herself with "burned and cursed and / shut tight my eyes. I tuck my feet up like a girl." Note the simile to a girl. To me, there's such disdain in the tone due to the negative connotative words like "burned" and "cursed" before it.
Then the subject switches forcing more of an analogous between the portrait and the herself with:
In this corner, warm milk fall of light something
far from revealing its bone-blank eyes, that is
the eyes downcast in every portrait, shaded
the ribbon a bright blue furl across the gaze,
This is the longest connective sentence in the poem. With the opposition of the self set up as a backdrop to these lines -- the focus is what the "eyes" are doing. They are bone-blank and down cast in every portrait, every iteration of the image. Furthermore, "the ribbon a bright blue furl across the gaze" feels like a hindering device, but rather the furl exposes characters.
The peculiar mother, and a naked toddler the fall of light "Betrays nothing." The brevity of the line and the confidence centers the poem to that moment. This moment of mother and toddler is expected, however, the "book in / hand, betrays" The book in hand betrays. The artifice betrays the moment just like the view and the actual of the self.
The last line, "I shred its binding and burn through it for warmth." Primarily focuses on the destruction of the artifice, the book. Rather than confidence, I feel more of a forlorn from the line. Mostly because the line is isolated, and also the build up of disjointedness comes to a realization in which burning, like the image of the self, is the only response.