Original poem reprinted online here: "Ornature" by Christina Pugh
Originally read: June 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Christina Pugh
Past me wrote this at the beginning of the poem, "Ornature -- decoration, but why this iteration." I thought about the choice of diction for a while -- and after reading the end, I understand now. But first the first part of the poem, sets up the mood, ambiance, and subject of the poem.
The first part of the poem starts as a narrative in which there's some visceral realistic imagery with, "To trim away the shrapnel, / the surgeon sliced a sliver of her skull." The alliteration adds more of a surreal intention to the line -- shrapnel, surgeon, sliced, sliver and skull are all pretty serious nouns and a verb that has violent and surreal indications.
The poem follows through with the surreal action with the description of what is left, "Now, when she lifts her hair / to show the shape, it's moony;" Again, the term "moony" balances the line between surreal and the real narrative. Moony, is more a colloquial term, but a weird way to describe the shrapnel -- but, for me, the tone ties in the surreal and the real to characterize not only the subject, but also the shrapnel as well.
The next lines go away from the narrative, but the semi-colon leads to a small connection.
a figure-eight has flown
the convex bone, therewithin
some beauty to inscribe:
blood forms rubies
you eat the Host for food.
The language here is actually ornate, but has a sense of misdirection. The "figure-eight" image goes somewhere yet, but the language of the bone and the blood has an archaeological effect, as if to purposely show the image as a relic in which the audience "eat the Host for food." In a more visceral way -- the line is how the viewers perceive such an injury, such cutting, to the point of sustenance rather than carthasis -- perhaps both.
Then the very direct line of "The beautiful girl says / she'll always be a soldier" -- the said -- versus the actual, "She'd had a two percent chance / of waking from the coma." Since the poem is written in past tense, there's the assumption that "she" did awake from the coma. She say this as thought to see the shrapnel as a prideful relic, along with her service.
Her bravado is then punctuated by her saying that she's the two percent "with a smile"; meanwhile, the last lines expand outward, "--And, sackcloth or silk, / the husk did open. We decorate / her friends at the end of May." And here the poem has more of a social queue that's not judgmental, but is placed side by side with the narrative of the girl surviving -- some don't.
Ornature -- the noun form of ornate. What the reader is reading is a focus on the object whether it be the shrapnel, the girl, the bone, or her friends. All of them has minor details to them that are either expressed "the beautiful girl" or implied -- the audience view of the subjects.