Dorianne Laux’s poetry is free verse, but definitely well-crafted with attention to detail. The subject matter and its treatment is what makes her work compelling. Some of her work can be found at the Poetry Foundation, but below is a poem that is not there. Most of her poems have a sense of “turn,” of a turning point where you realize something quite unexpected, and this is no exception. She is sometimes considered a feminist poet, but I think her work is more universal, with a sense of speaking for the “common man,” as well as the “common woman,” if there is in fact such a thing. She reaches into the hearts of those who suffer or are of little means. That is perhaps what I like most. That, and the “turns.”
We put the puzzle together piece
by piece, loving how one curved
notch fits so sweetly with another.
A yellow smudge becomes
the brush of a broom, and two blue arms
fill in the last of the sky.
We patch together porch swings and autumn
trees, matching gold to gold. We hold
the eyes of deer in our palms, a pair
of brown shoes. We do this as the child
circles her room, impatient
with her blossoming, tired
of the neat house, the made bed,
the good food. We let her brood
as we shuffle through the pieces,
setting each one into place with a satisfied
tap, our backs turned for a few hours
to a world that is crumbling, a sky
that is falling, the pieces
we are required to return to.
from Awake, 2001
University of Arkansas Press
Copyright 2001 by Dorianne Laux.
All rights reserved.