Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Great Poems of Our Time: "How Aimée remembers Jaguar"


How Aimee remembers Jaguar (Erin Hopson) on Vimeo.

To sustain a loss without sinking under it: How Aimée remembers Jaguar

For Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust

I. Sepia
photographs of women whose lips rejected
the stretched curve of smiles, instead waited,
plump and teasing. It was better if water clung
to pinned curls, trickled and pooled in gullies.
Cattails should fringe the water's edge.

II. Afternoon
teas that smell of fruit and spice, when brewing
produce more steam than common kinds. See
how stunning an iris in a chipped vase looks.
Add lemon scones and clink of cups held by hands
whose touch caused fires just that morning.

III. Sheets
sink into the spaces between knees, brush bottoms
of feet. The softest parts pursue something equal
to spoon, fingers trace patterns over smooth
and slick terrain. How pliable, the chasm between lovers
where welcome linen soothes the burn.

IV. Dancing
with head rested on satin covered shoulder
the smell of war and sweat is more palatable.
Dizzying twirl and liquor makes the laughter
of fleeing friends less harsh. This was the only place
where women could whisper their true names.

V. On Outings
there would have been sadness. One used to carry
the blanket and one the wicker basket. With only this set,
comparing the size of footprints is less important.
Beyond the cattails, ash and soot cling to the pond,
but comfort is in the scent of spice and fruits and smoke.



This is the first of two poems brought to our attention in an article posted on Poets.org. Both are happy accidents, written by newcomers to the art form.

As good as it is, this ekphrastic piece gets better after we view the underlying movie, Max Färberböck's "Aimée & Jaguar", about four friends/lovers in 1930s Berlin, hiding away from Nazis and husbands;  decades later, the three survivors gather to remember Jaguar, who became a holocaust victim.

As the story goes, newcomer Erin Hopson posted this on Gazebo in 2007. Critics raved about it, calling it "award-winning writing". Four years later Erin had completed a college degree but had never submitted the poem anywhere. Last year, someone who had seen the poem on Gazebo showed TheHyperTexts editor Mike Burch a copy of it. The author was tracked down and the rest, as they say, is history.

I would be hard pressed to think of a poem that combines sensuality and sadness as well as this. The sonics are wonderful, underpinned by a sexy sibillance throughout. Here are some examples of effective sound repetitions:

  • "rejected...stretched"
  • "fruit...brewing...produce"
  • "common kinds"
  • "Sheets...between knees...feet."
  • "between...where welcome"
  • "more steam than common"
  • "covered shoulder"
  • "was...where women could whisper"
  • "blanket...basket"
  • "important. Beyond...pond"

     While not as strong as "Studying Savonarola", the rhythms are very good, including an iambic pentameter coda: "...is in the scent of spice and fruits and smoke." Its performance potential is unlimited.



Next: "There are Sunflowers in Italy"
  1. "Studying Savonarola" by Margaret A. Griffiths
  2. "Beans" by D. P. Kristalo
  3. "Antiblurb" by A. E. Stallings
  4. "How Aimée remembers Jaguar" by Eric Hopson
  5. "There Are Sunflowers in Italy" by Didi Menendez
  6. "Auditing the Heart" by Frank Matagrano 



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