One of the greatest pleasures of winter break is having time to read all of the poetry books and chapbooks that have been sitting in my “to-read” pile (not to mention all of the new books I received for Christmas gifts). One of the wonderful gifts I received was a long-anticipated read – Carol Berg‘s Ophelia Unraveling from dancing girl press. (You can read other poems from the book here.)
This chapbook speaks alternately between Ophelia and the river which seduces her. One of my favorite poems in the chapbook is “The River Confesses.”
The River Confesses
And that’s why I sang my river song to her.
Why she heard the questions. I tell you
the dead leaves were not enough, floating
on my surface, the wind skimming above
me. That is not touch. There were no rainbow
trout freckling my currents. The rocks she so desired
were at first quite jagged. Small teeth gripping me.
Can you understand what it’s like constantly eating
a path through the grass? The clatter of dead reeds,
like chatter? My persistent mouth with so little
to feed on but twisted twigs. And so when she came
upon my unbuttoned riverbank and when I peeled
off my green shirt and when she dipped her
fingers inside of me what could I do but open
my book of dreams to her. She read herself
inside of me. And then I unwound myself inside of her.
Sigh. So lovely. I love the voice of the river as a lover who seduces Ophelia, as an entity who needs her. Persona poems are some of my favorite types of poems, and this one hits the mark in every respect – the voice is consistent, the music of the poem is soft and flowing to match its subject, and one can’t help but feel the river’s particular pain and longing.
If you want to write:
1. Choose a natural entity (tree, river, stone, etc.) and write its confession.
2. Choose a character from the canon and write about his/her relationship with a non-human entity.