Monday, October 31, 2005


by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Threading the palm, a web of little lines
Spells out the lost money, the heart, the head,
The wagging tounges, the sudden deaths, in signs
We would smooth out, like imprints on a bed,

In signs that can't be helped, geese heading south,
In signs read anxiously, like breath that clouds
A mirror held to a barely open mouth,
Like telegrams, the gathering of crowds -

The plane's X in the sky, spelling disaster;
Before the whistle and hit, a tracer flare;
Before rubble, a hairline crack in plaster
And a housefly's panicked scribbling on the air.

This poem reminds me so much of everyday happenings and how people reconcile with themselves that the unthinkable happened because of this sign or because of that sign. People use the phrase, "It's a sign!" so often that its become cliche. The examples that Schnackenberg gives are such typical methods in which people try to "read" the signs. I really liked how she described palm reading without ever having to use the word "read". Honestly, at first I thought that she was talking about a palm tree, but then I figured out all the "little lines" and the spelling that was being written about. I find it so true that we people not only see signs, but we LOOK for signs and I think that that is ultimately why we find them. And by looking for and finding these signs, I feel that we somehow want to guilt trip or pride ourselves into thinking that we knew what happened was going to happen. Schnackenberg does such an excellent job telling of the reading into signs simply through a series of sign examples.


Blogger Naseem said...

I like the way you analyzed the poem, using signs. When I read it that wasnt what I first thought the meaning of the poem was, but yours makes a lot of sense. other than everyday life, I think the speaker is writing about a specific time of his life when things werent going well for him and he was looking for a sign to help him out.

9:21 AM  
Blogger MValentine said...

I agree with Brianne's analyzation of the poem. I think that the poem is about the superstitious signs that we see in life and are cliche tht we use to describe why things happen. We made up these cliches and then after the fact we can say that that was he sign of why it happend. The poem descries a lot of superstitious beliefs.

8:40 PM  

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