Hul 11, 2014

Notes on Jill McDonough’s “Ming”


That’s why we don’t keep things in stairwells.
—Mary Warnement, The Boston Athenaeum
       


    When the former curator remembers the Ming,
    remembers knocking it over, he remarks, “The thing

    took fucking forever to fall.” Shaking
    his heavy head. Inside, the Ming’s still taking

    its time. Still falling. Look: he opened the magic door,
    invented a way of making more

    time. All of us always longing for longer, a few extra hot
    days in July, sunshine, more time with the kids. Not

    this endless loop, cringing eternity, fucking forever in the poor
    guy’s vase-sized head. Scott asks if I’d be twenty again. Not for

    all the money in the world. But then I sort of take
    it back, bargain: would I for sure meet Josey? Could I bank

    the money I did not give back to the world—just Jeter’s share,
    net worth of the board of Goldman Sachs—relive those years

    and then have the rest of my life with her, her and fewer
    jobs? A car, dishwasher, dryer. New roof, newer

    shoes, Josey’s never-swollen one-shift-a-week knees.
    Go back to twenty, to the instant the Ming first leans

    into thinner air. This vase makes it through Bruegel,
    the new world, microscopes. From bustles to Google

    to finally fall. But not finally anything: always it slips
    from a half-hearted shelf, fresh from its crated straw, his fingertips

    always in reach. You gain a week, say, week of replay, your fault
    in the space time continuum, week of stutter and halt

    taken back in slivers of seconds, in panicked gasps, sleep rent
    again. You gain a week. This is how it’s spent.

*




KAREN—

S.E.—

KAREN—

SARAH—

DENNIS— Maybe our selves beholding the curator beholding the monumental fall of the Ming is itself a moment of awe.

KAREN—

DENNIS— There's something tentative in each stanza, tenuous even, the poem itself like a "half-hearted shelf" of couplets. I'm really drawn to such expressions as "thinner air" and "week of stutter and halt". Some of it seems metapoetic to me, for example "his heavy head. Inside, the Ming’s still taking" which sounds like, yes, it's still actually falling inside this man's life, still claiming him beyond its already super-extended presence. But maybe it's also "still taking" because of the poem or inside the poem, inside couplets that come across as "slivers of seconds" and "panicked gasps"?

KAREN—

CLAUDIA—

KAREN—

DENNIS— Back-reading some of your other posts! Glad you put this up.

KAREN—

S.E.—

KAREN—