Original poem reprinted online here: "The Logic of a Lesser Loved Science" by Carolyn Moore
More information about the Poet: Carolyn Moore
Past me wrote, "follow the use of colons and how they are used in the poem" and I could see why rereading this poem. There's something definition based going on in this poem that ties in, lesser, loved, and science, as individual aspects or all at the same time.
The title bleeds into the poem with, "can give us our bearings where we're lost. / Things vast and physical point the way." Here is the reference more so of the logic pointing the way -- but what of the lesser loved science? I feel there is a hinted definition with the next two lines, "Take the earth's geology of scars: / from each new shape-shift we learn caution." So the science of "geology of scars" is furthered turned into the metaphor with the introduction of the "we" speaker. The colon in this stanza serves as more of a transitioning point between "scars" and the personal. I keep thinking to myself why not a comma? It feels like the scars define the "we" outlook.
So the thoughts of geology keep going forward with, "Trickier than plants or beasts, landforms / deceive, given the change. Fumoroles, domes, tuff, unloading and mass wasting:" Note with this the geological descriptions is tempered with the insight that it's harder to discern land than plants or beasts -- and with each list of various types of land "mass wasting" ques into the a more visceral tone; meanwhile, the post-colon line, "any list conceals as it contains" defines the list -- a more meta line which can refer to the "we" speaker.
And as if to keep going forward, the poem tries to figure out the previous concept, "Distinguish what's essential from mere / clutter." And this seems more on the personal side, but this is referring to, "Take two plains: The snake River's / and the Serengeti's. see the tricks / of likeness?" And even though these are real rivers, there is the undertone of the relationship or rather the concealment with the term "tricks of likeness."
And do the tricks come in, "Plains vary more than ducks, / volcanic necks, far more than daisies." The comparisons come in, but also note the vast differences in comparison from something expansive to something specific, "We map the terrain best once we've left it." past me wrote that this line is an, "individual line that stretch the encyclopedic language." Each line seems to hint at something more for example, "we've left it" could mean a multitude of things, but the speaker holds steadfast to the comparative language until, "a new land mass already playing / the slut, promising clean slates and shales." I think the usage of "slut" is so grounded with the shifting definitions and the tricks that it is risky. On one hand, the word jars the reader, forcefully, to see the discrepancies, but on the other hand if the comparative traction was enough for the reader to infer something more, then the word is off putting and detracts from the poem.
"Never oversimplify causes." The line seems to predict the "conceal as it contains" reaction to the word, "True, three forces reshape our world's skin:" stop here for a second. The metaphor is realized with this line which ties in the geological terminology with a more human metaphor. Does this confirm anything? No, but there is a stronger implication of a human/land connection. But on with the list (again conceal as it contains).
"that first ingenious creep of desire;" here it's just stated emotion, no anthropomorphizing, the shift towards the human and note how the semi-colon is connecting the thoughts and image now, "the slow, harsh dismantling of surface; / then rupture--one plane abandoning / the other over a fault or two." The line "plane abandoning" holds so many repercussions, but note the rupture, the separation is more towards the landmass.
"In our study we will, of course, cite / slides, soil creeps, various erosions. / e will speak of what we cannot say" Past me put "synthetic ending" However, the bigger question is "what type of ending?" This hinted relationship between the "we" which isn't there per se, or how land escapes.