width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses


Rita Dove
featured poet

Prose in a Small Space

Itís supposed to be prose if it runs on and on, isnít it?  All those
words, too many to fall into rank and file, stumbling bareassed
drunk onto the field reporting for duty, yessir, spilling out as 
shamelessly as the glut from a megabillion dollar chemical facility,
just the amount of glittering effluvium it takes to transport a little 
girl across a room, beige carpet thick under her oxfords, curtains
blowzy with spring Ė is that the scent of daffodils drifting in?  

Daffodils donít smell but prose doesnít care.  Prose likes to hear
itself talk; prose is development and denouement, anticipation 
hovering near the canapťs, lust rampant in the antipasta Ė e.g., a
silver fork fingered sadly as the heroine crumples a linen napkin in
her lap to keep from crying out at the sight of Lord Campionís regal
brow inclined tenderly toward the wealthy young widow . . . prose 
applauds such syntactical dalliances.

Then is it poetry if itís confined?  Trembling along its axis, a flagpole
come alive in high wind, flapping its radiant sleeve for attention Ė 
Over here! Itís me! Ė while the white spaces (air, field, early
morning silence before the school bell) shape themselves around 
that one bright seizure. . . and if thatís so what do we have here, a
dream or three paragraphs?  We have white space too; is this
music?  As for all the words left out, banging at the gates . . .  we
could let them in, but where would we go with our orders, our
stuttering pride?

© Rita Dove

used by permission of author

Originally appeared in A Journal of Prose Poetry
Vol. 2, Issue I, Winter 2005, p. 2.

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