How I Am Doing Now
I have fallen into a silence, not a hole or a well,
but rather a wideness rimmed with rose and tinkling trees
in shivering gowns of sun-sliced ice. Beyond sight
all dips into a deep dell, fog-draped, dank.
Sometimes coyotes jog through the night
in their uneven coats of winter and frost,
but mostly herds of does materialize quietly,
grazing in the soft morning fogs.
At times, I stand at cliff’s edge,
sheer rock, broken and jutting, above,
stubborn bare-footed trees clinging by toes
to the jumble below, while quick as a corner-eyed
ghost, the bald eagle floats above and away.
Later, I’ll say I saw him, but who can be sure?
Who knows the coyotes, except as a silver disturbance
under moon, the dog on the hill in hysterics?
When I awaken, the wideness remains,
a grim possibility in the pre-dawn gray,
opening under the cloud-scuttled sky,
a fathoms-long lid, indeterminate.
|Mary Ann Honaker|
levelheaded: How I Am Doing Now
The title of this week’s poem by Mary Ann Honaker sets the stage for a reflection on the speaker’s current emotional state. Read differently, “How I Am Doing Now” can also be taken as “The Way I Am Performing the Present.” Mind. Blown.
However we read the title, the poem looks to nature to demonstrate how the speaker grapples with and embodies the present. With her having “fallen into a silence,” we know from the outset that there is turmoil. Yet, her silence is manifested through the pleasurable music of language. Whatever conflict may be at the poem’s center, it is not so all-consuming that the world around her, the “wideness rimmed with rose and tinkling trees / in shivering gowns of sun-sliced ice,” can be overlooked.
In the above-quoted lines, “sun-sliced ice” serves as a fine example of how this poem operates. The world, presumably mirroring the speaker’s emotions, is multisided. It is icy, yet the sun cuts through the ice. Transitioning from the second to third stanzas, we move from delicate images (“herds of does materialize quietly, grazing in the soft morning fogs”) to hard, sharp ones (“I stand at cliff’s edge, / sheer rock, broken and jutting”).
Just as the poem’s title is deceptively complex, the phrase “herds of does materialize quietly” works a couple different ways. On the one hand, we get the female deer appearing. On the other, stranger hand, when we read “does” as a form of the verb “to do,” we’re offered the idea that time, that the present moment, is constantly, quietly ever-becoming.
Perhaps this is “the wideness [that] remains”—the distance between us and the moon, the space beyond, and all the possibility all around us. Sure, those possibilities may be “grim,” but they can also be quite beautiful, like a “silver disturbance / under moon” or a “bald eagles [that] floats above and away.”
– The Editors