Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Analysis of "Arrowhead" by Tasha Cotter

Poem Found Here: "Arrowhead" by Tasha Cotter



"To understanding the word enemy, imagine"  The first line proposes to the speaker that the understanding of "enemy" is what the poem is going to explore.  Note not the definition, since definition doesn't mean understanding.  It's where the audience has to experience vicariously in order to understand.  And at first the audience is imagining, "The buffalo grazing while listening / For the stir of men approaching/ The hill"

Note that the grammar in this part indicates that the men do or do not exists.  The focal point of the buffalo listening out mirrors our own expectations as readers for something out there that might attack us, "sharpened flint in their palms."

Then the poem shifts from the buffalo's perspective to the men -- imaginary men:

     Each of them, ready to die for the same

     Thing: the hush of a limestone cave,

     The rise and fall of sinking creeks.

The key to these is not the scenic objects the men would die for, rather the verb: "hush" and "rise and fall."  These verbs bring out a sense of the hunt -- the silence and the focus on movement, but are placed in the scenery as though to refocus the reasons from the enemies.

Then the switch to the second person which tries to, or maybe force, that the definition of this enemy also requires the understanding of killing, "You can almost understand killing / For your home because it's a place / That claims you and call you / Back."

So there's motive.

Motivation actually from the enemy to state what they are doing -- killing -- is for a home that always calls back.  Place.  And how flippantly the speaker, through all the setup, disregards the actual killing,

     [...]But what about the arrowhead?

     Instrument in hand, the buffalo

     Never stood a chance.

But it's the "Tiny monster" that draws me in.  I wonder what that means or more specifically what the tiny monster refers to.  Since it is singular, I'm assuming the term is demonizing the buffalo -- a tiny monster of no worth in order to keep place.

By the end of this poem, there's a sense of a moral to the exploration of the definition proposed in the beginning.   "Just when you think you know what / To expect, there lies the incredible / Surprise waiting for you to cross its path."  For me, this is more of a satire on the morality tale -- there isn't really a moral, just justification and belittlement.

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