Thursday, November 10, 2011

There, There

There, There

There, there,
we say to a crying person,
touch them
twice, on the arm, flat palm.
Ascertaining
location is comforting, and
nearness,
and the knowledge that while
despair
can come from you, it is not
lodged
within you. Soothing someone
is a form
of exorcism, shooing away pain
so the person
can become themselves to us
again.
People are places, we admit
mid-pat,
once for them, once for us.
We want
this wailing to roll to a stop.

9 comments

  1. Hmmm this had me pondering why DO we say there there... it's almost an immediate metaphorical distancing from an event, from there to there, you will soon move from here... to there, here this place of upset to there, time healed, & okay...

    'There there' sounds so much more poetic now. Beautiful gentle and border-breaking. As usual you make me see the world anew with a beautiful collections & arrangement of words....

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/54/messages/499.html

    thea.
    xx

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  2. This is one of my favorites, Hannah, and that’s saying something (and it’s not just quid pro quo for your visit to my place).

    You take such a clinical approach (“ascertaining/location,” “a form/of exorcism,” and then “mid-pat,/once for them, once for us”—COUNTING the amount of soothing) that you risk sounding cold.

    Yet the whole poem if full of warmth and gentleness, including its conclusion, with the combination of mild mockery in “wailing” and the gentle metaphor and honest insight of “We want/this to roll to a stop.”

    You give us “Soothing” as (violent?) exorcism and then, as if it were all child’s play, “shooing” pain? Great combinations, paradoxes, and control of tone!

    “People are places”—I especially love that one. And yes, we are. Why not calmly, gently insist we see ourselves that way, a different way, at least briefly, until the crisis “rolls to stop” and both parties understand themselves better, return to what they thought they were, and wanted to be, before all this drama.

    Then there’s the overall honesty in the paradox that the speaker is interested in her own comfort at least as much as soothing the wailing friend.

    Sorry to go so long. I’ll try to shut up now, though I could go on (your interesting line breaks, the nature of altruism, and more). It’s not every day that I find a new poem that truly deserves close textual analysis. Thank you.

    (I like Thea's points too. Guess I'm just a liking guy today.)

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  3. mid-pat,
    once for them, once for us.

    love it.
    good thought.

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  4. Wow...I have never thought of it as exorcism but I am going to think of it as such from now on. It is a funny gesture, I have always felt that way. It always appeared to me that I had to hug the person but feared to do so, hug their pain away. Lovely indeed. Have a great Thursday Hannah! : )

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  5. Good one Hannah. Lately we've been soothing our feral kitty. He got injured so we had to move him indoors for recovery and he seems to be getting used to lots of belly rubs and petting.

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  6. 'Tis a gooder (to borrow a phrase).

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  7. Everyone, your comments made my day today.

    Thank you so much for the sensitive readings (especially Banjo! but everyone!). I appreciate your support so very much.

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  8. Some thought-provoking aspects to this - there, there, for one.

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