Monday, February 7, 2011

Souls On Ice

Souls On Ice

When I first starting reading this short piece that Mark Doty wrote, I was a little puzzled as why he was writing about mackerels. Then I realized as I got much further into the piece, that this really was the proverbial tip of the ice berg.

I took pleasure in the way he broke down the pieces of his writing, so that the reader could identify with how and why he developed the poem the way that he did.  Even with him just starting out with expressive words to capture the way the mackerels looked, this showed his train of thought and the development of his piece of poetry. His use of descriptive, vivid words and metaphors were inspiring. I had not thought about the impact that a poem can have just by writing in tercets, which allows the pacing of a poem for the reader. The pauses and breaks in the poem allowed me as a reader to contemplate the deep meaning of each word and try to visualize in my mind’s eye words, such as prismatic abalone.

I too, would like to think that am unique, one of a kind, as Mark Doty eluded too. Every since I was young, it has been told to me that I was unique and no one else was quite like me. Now, that I think about this, could this have been said because I’m REALLY different. That has made me reflect about all those times when I was a child and I heard that same saying and or aphorism. Had it been said in a condescending way or in a genuine well meaning way? 

I think the majority of us would like to think that we are unique and that when we do leave this world, we would be missed in some sort of little way. But, life does go marching on, even when we lose a loved one, a friend, even a cherished pet. It seems he was trying to find some sense of being after losing his partner of many years. I remember that saying of, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?". Life does go on, with or without us. We are just a grain of sand, compared to the bigger picture of things.

The vocabulary that Mark Doty used in describing his journey of composing this poem was imaginary. Throughout this piece I found myself looking up several words that I had never heard or seen before. In this sense, I found myself learning new descriptive words that I will hopefully add to my vocabulary as a writer and somehow be able to work them into a piece of my own work.
The last stanza of the poem summed everything up in a tidy tercet. The word gleaming implies a shine, a shimmer, a flash, and or sparkle, something we are for a brief period, while being part of a whole in this universe. Carpe Diem…….


  1. As I look around in my own surroundings, and identify those things of which I would really miss if they were not in my midst, I would really miss my own mind the most I am sure. With out our minds would we be able to love, or feel loved. Could we feel compassion, sorrow, would we cry at the funeral of someone we didn't know or smile at a wedding even though that wedding was just an image on TV. If I lost my mind who would I be, just another mindless sap, wandering aimlessly around, wondering who I was.

  2. Lee Ann, as usual you really capture the essence of the reading and using you astute analytical skills to cast a lasting impression to the rest of us ! Well written and Thank you!