Originally read: May 24, 2013
More information about the Poet: Elaine Equi
The poem opens up with the humorous line, "The sky is melting. Me too." Furthermore, what the opening line does is create a hyperbolic analogy which the reader accepts when going forward with the poem. Therefore, the suspension of disbelief is stretched in the poem.
"Pink between the castlework / of buildings." The image has a strong sense of color but also note the "castlework" in which the word brings a sense of structural aesthetic to the building as well which is thrown off balance with the next stanza of, "pensive syrup / drizzled over clouds" which brings a humorous tension. All these aspects brought in: hyperbole, humor, structure, image, foreshadows the split stanzas.
The stanzas are in couplets up to this point with the single line, "It is almost catostrophic how heavenly" pivoting the poem through the angular connotations of both catastrophe and heaven. Yet in the tercet, "A million poets, at least, / have stood in the very spot, / groceries in hand, wondering:" has more of a direction and the hyperbole brings out the litotes here. The end of the world type of idea along with daily routine.
The litotes becomes the humor (opposite of the hyperbole in the beginning) with the last couple thought, "'Can I witness the Rapture / and still make it home in time for dinner?'" Note a couple of important things here. Yes, there's an allusion to the biblical rapture through color. And yes, this is the first instance of a rhetorical question in this poem and the second part is more normal which brings out the litotes. But the most important aspect here is choice. That the poet picking up groceries are more inclined to cook dinner than chronicle their thoughts on the end.
And in a sense, this poem refers to poets as people first. Or perhaps I'm looking too deeply at the hyperbole and litotes.