Friday, March 23, 2007

A Little Tooth, by Thomas Lux

Great poems are diamonds and the words in them individual carbon atoms laid perfect and tight. William Goldman said in Which Lie Did I Tell that poetry is the ultimate form of compression. It's true. I'm terrified to write poems myself, terrified because I know they're giong to suck eggs and I need to hide behind a little benefit of the doubt.

I first read the following poem on the New York subway a few weeks ago. It was part of some ad promoting mabe a book store or something. I just read it over and over again, stunned at how the author could sum up aging, life, disappointment, idiocy and change so perfectly. That last line has reverbed in my head ever since.

Rather than crap on and on about it, here it is:

A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,

and four, and five, then she wants some meat

directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall

in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet

talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue

nothing. You did, you loved, your feet

are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.

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At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it's not an ad -- it's part of that great "Poetry in Motion" subway series:

They weren't selling you anything.

I saw it today as well and was moved, with my first daughter's first tooth just coming in . . .

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the same subway ad... then googled the poem, and hit this blog. I mention this only because, I was struck by the precision of this poet's words the same way you were....

As a parent of a daughter, it made me feel proud, sad, all of those things.

And our feet really do hurt, too.

At 3:44 AM, Blogger Angela said...

I also came here by googling part of the poem - I had the same experience you did - sitting in the train reading it over and over and being thankful to my parents for giving me the life they gave me. :)

Thanks for reproducing the poem.

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also googled that poem after seeing it on the subway last night. I read it and practically burst into tears. (My daughter's at the "wants some meat directly from the bone." stage -- it's all over.

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also read the poem on the 6 train. Again and again. As many times as I could before getting to my stop. Then arrived here via Google. Indeed, Lux says it all.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same as the others, I wanted to find this masterly poem to show my wife after seeing it on an MTA placard. Thanks for posting it.

Post child, the world becomes qualitatively more beautiful and yet replete with danger. The apple eaten, we awake in the garden of good and evil, and see as if with new eyes that each person is heart-breakingly precious cargo, love reifed, for at least two people. The world is therefore a tragedy. I, too, cry. <bzzzzzzzzt> keyboard shorts out


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