In my recent microreview & interview of Michael J. Wilson’s A Child of Storm (Stalking Horse Press), I focused my review on ideas of ambition, how the poems in the collection sought to explore their subject from various angles and depths. The poem below, also from the same collection, is an example of this lyric ambition on more intimate grounds.
While the poem’s narrative develops out of ideas of taste and scene, what makes the poem compelling is the work the reader is left to engage with through reading. Much like Philip Larkin’s idea of a poem being an explosive set off by the reader’s reading of it, Wilson’s poem here works through lines that involve the reader’s imagination directly. Rather than guiding or describing, the poem evolves through fruitful ambiguity. As the poem’s ending words are read, one is prompted to simultaneously listen, observe, and feel.
Cherry Birch – Michael J. Wilson
You tell me to chew a birch twig and it tastes like wintergreen and I’m shocked by the numbing : that wooden thing in my mouth — Even in December I can tell that you are hot under your clothes that you have the itch to get naked : I won’t stop you there is an empty spot on the desk : fold them there : Sheets are hissing :