I’m reading contemporary Russian poet Vera Pavlova, and I love her. Her poems are matter-of-fact and simultaneously metaphysical. She gets away with the body/soul dichotomy because she also makes mention of “motorbike” and “bowl.” She pulls off ruminations on love because they are so down-to-earth:
If only I knew from what tongue
your I love you has been translated,
if I could find the original,
consult the dictionary
to be sure the rendition is exact:
The translator is not at fault!
Number 41. And this one, number 50:
I have brushed my teeth.
This day and I are even.
This book is called If There Is Something to Desire: 100 Poems. Most of them, like the title poem, are majorly abstract. But grounded enough to read like treats. I think that’s because each one treats only a single idea. Her intentions, I think, are to articulate love and pain and the weirdness in between.
Poetry is like acupuncture: powerful even—especially—in small doses. And it can release things its recipient wasn’t previously aware of. The following poem, number 14, makes me go “ouch”:
No love? Let us make it!
Done. Next? Let us make
care, tenderness, courage,
jealousy, glut, lies.
I love how she moves down the spectrum here from the most honorable to the most despicable of human emotions. Care and tenderness are desirable components of love; love demands courage; jealous, glut and lies can be side effects of spoiled love.
This poem makes me feel alive. I can relate to the speaker even though I don’t know who the speaker is; even though the poem doesn’t depict one specific moment, it feels immediate. Part of the reason why it sings to me is because of the listing. The punctuation (!) is also strong.
The effect is similar to when I had a needle inserted into my solar plexus. I felt drained for the whole day afterward, because at last I let myself feel pressure, tension and pain that had long been hidden beneath surface feelings. This poem starts at the surface with No love?, moves a little deeper by proposing a solution and confirming its transpiration, (Let us make it! Done.) and then finally gets at the core of feeling by the end of the list at the end of the fourth line. The short poem triggers a visceral emotional reflex in me.