~This poem previously appeared in TriQuarterly and in The Charm (Zoo Press, 2002)
Remember. Resurrect. A river
Taken under the rain’s
Right arm. Enter an R and everything rises,
Like cream, to the surface.
It’s the ornamental nature of the peacock
Letter. From its azure
Crest to its emerald
Throat to the Roman grandeur of its mirrored
Train—iridescence runneth over!
Red rover, red rover. And look! Regarde!
Our laureates rush over—
To write us a rhyme, a romance, or retraction,
To write an Rx for our grieving
Hearts: Turn words every morning like a bride
In your arms and repeat after me:
Resh. Ra. Roar. Rabbi. I am
Wronged. I am wrong. Dark.
Sorrow. Rare. Miracle. Adorable. Reaper. Raison
D’etre. We are
Irreparable. But what of it?
Therefore shall we labor
In the service of the R.
Therefore shall we practice
Such random acts of artifice as
The topiary, curlicue of orange
Rind, and other ethereal arrangements of the sort
Featured in Martha Stewart’s
Marathon pre-Christmas broadcast,
“An Undecorated Life is Not Worth Living.”
Pre-recorded in the recently renovated
Rooms of her rustic 18th century Vermont,
Paris, Prague, and Ozark farmhouses,
She credits Ezra Pound and his celebrated Modern
Maxim, “Make It New,”
For her own mantra: “Make It Yourself,
Make It Pretty, and Keep the Glue-gun Loaded.”
Despair prepared for is despair
Averted. The R knows that. As do charm,
Conjury, and all rarefied matters of inconsequence
I was formerly
Forever railing against. No longer.
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM
“Recovery” is the "R" poem in a series of alphabet poems I wrote over the course of two books, both MOVING & ST RAGE and The Charm. I thought of these alphabet poems as illuminated letter texts—as one sees in medieval bibles and other medieval manuscripts. They differ one to another, but often the poems are informed by the linguistic and cultural origins and evolutions of the actual letters. “Recovery” also plays very overtly with alliterative devices. In terms of its composition, I began by thinking about how many US poet laureates had Rs in their names—not true at the moment, but R is a recurring letter in many of the poets' names—and that somehow led to a meditation on Martha Stewart.
ABOUT KATHY FAGAN
Kathy Fagan is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Lip (2009). New work has appeared in Willow Springs, theawl.com, and The Laurel Review, and in the anthology, A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press). She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. Fagan currently teaches in the MFA Program at Ohio State, where she co-edits the OSU Press/The Journal poetry series. Further information may be found at http://www.kathyfagan.net/.