Anniversary (Nothing Morbid, Merely a Weird Coincidence)
The September issue of Poetry magazine includes a poem by one Dan Beachy-Quick entitled “Anniversary.” It’s a thick issue, and, beyond flipping to the poems by Atsuro Riley, whose work I always crave, I had given it only a cursory glance. Today I skimmed Beachy-Quick’s poem and sort of wrote it off as something sentimental I wasn’t much interested in investing much of myself in. But I gave it another chance, and though I’m not sure I’ve given it enough of a chance yet, a few weird things started to jump out at me. I’ll quote the poem in full, hoping that qualifies as fair use:
You are for me as you cannot be
For yourself, chaos without demand
To speak, the amethyst nothing
Hidden inside the trinket shop’s stone,
Dark eyes dark asterisks where light
Footnotes a margin left blank. You
Don’t look up to look up at the sky.
Your ears parenthesize nothing
That occurs, that I keep from occurring,
In the poem, on the page, as you are
For me, not a shadow, but a shade
Whose darkness drops from no object
But is itself yourself, a form of time
Spanning nothing, never is your name.
Let me first qualify what follows by saying that I don’t present it as any sort of theory or close reading. It’s just a set of associations that I couldn’t help noticing. Of course, what you take from a thing you read is largely a product of what you bring to it, and I’ve got Wallace and Infinite Jest very much on the brain these days.
So the title. Anniversary. September 12 marks the anniversary of Wallace’s death, and this is the September issue of Poetry. Of course, it often takes months for submissions to be accepted or rejected, much less published, so synchronicity here is either lucky or orchestrated (probably lucky).
Chaos without demand to speak calls to mind Hal’s aphonia.
Wallace was born in February, and the amethyst is the birth stone for February.
The trinket shop makes me think of the Antitoi brothers’ shop.
Asterisks and footnotes: ’nuff said.
There’s lots of sky imagery in Infinite Jest (though to be fair, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find a book that didn’t have lots of sky imagery).
The notion of occurring makes me think of a certain rant of Schtitt’s.
The mention of darkness makes me think of The Darkness. The association of that darkness with objects makes me think of The Darkness’s relationship with objects.
I could probably tease out more, but this is a quick brain dump. For the moment, I’m resisting the temptation to look for some kind of annagrammatic acrostic in the poem’s first lines’ first letters (the initials DFW do appear, but not in uninterrupted sequence). I don’t fully grok even the basic thing the poem is saying and need to do a different sort of reading of it than I’ve done so far. Just thought I’d put this free-association out there in the mean time.
Update: I wrote the poem’s author, and he kindly wrote me back and said that he hadn’t read Wallace, so the things that jumped out at me are in fact weird coincidences and/or the product of my overactive imagination.