Friday, April 11, 2014

Analysis of "The Hole at the Bottom of the Pool" by Caroline Maun

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Hole at the Bottom of the Pool" by Caroline Maun 
Originally read: September 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Caroline Maun



The poem starts out with a linguistically playful line, "The pool was aquamarine serene;" which is then played upon with the surreal descriptions like, "sometimes it was also the belly / of a whale."  Furthermore, the interaction with the pool is play as well, "me / macro-poloing in that microcosm."  But within the first stanza there are little snippets of the serious, "voluntarily, temporarily blind." or "In that riot / it was impossible to square cause and effect."  Note that the application of the serious went from sort of fun prsonal to a rhetorical sort of question that feels like hindsight.  now what appears before the speaker:

     Even in stillness, the wind picked up
     a few waves and threw light
     on the white stucco. The screen was torn off
     by the tropical storm years before.

Note that this is description with no emotional tie.  Compare this description to what's afterward, "but the scaffolding still sectioned the sky into / intriguing cubes.  On a dime-store raft / I charted the course of clouds."  It's as if the speaker knows the danger of the past, but currently, the speaker's outlook is more in line with the play earlier stated.

And why?  Now, with the second stanza, there's a conjuring of a Noah-like allusion, "the wildlife that wandered in; / toads and small snakes / ruffled the quiet skin of the morning water."  and, once again, the images aren't judgment calls, but lines like, "let peace / reign again" and "Even the ones note rescued / were not a source of grief." doesn't add a metaphor to the image -- but rather the judgement is placed with the overall scene which is "the pool" -- which here is defined as full of play, turmoil, and animals, "If you have a pool, that's how it is."

Now the shift to the bottom of the pool, "To this space of nothing my thoughts / returned."  There's such a dramatic shift of tone here when the speaker refers to the bottom as more of the subconscious thoughts.  Past me noted the "philosophical" turn here. And also note the end where the first reference of "you,"  "you waited there for something / else to wield the net of rescue."  What's weird about these lines is how the linguistic play is in there with the sort of redundancy of "net of rescue" but it's mixed with a semi-serious accusation of stagnation. Who is the "you" waiting to be rescued?  To me, it seems like the you comes across self-referential because of all the observations, the lack of anyone else, and the surreal.  And although this can be set up as a fable because of these attributes, the moral reflects more of the speaker's internal need rather than an encompassing lesson. 

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