Susan Krane: A favorite poem

Claustrophilia
Alice Fulton

This is my second favorite poem at the moment. It would be my first favorite if I did not have such a strong lingering memory of the pack-punching final line in the other, temporarily-lost-on-my-desk favorite poem: “the operative word in all alone is all.”  Fulton’s poem is a wonderful collage of images and emotional cycles. It, too, is about the need for more than just one’s self. Her humor is perfect: romance dressed in leg irons, ground to a velvet. She captures a female mindset of deep yet glib self-observation.

Susan Krane
Oshman Executive Director
San Jose Museum of Art


Claustrophilia

It’s just me throwing myself at you,
romance as usual, us times us,

not lust but moxibustion,
a substance burning close

to the body as possible
without risk of immolation.

Nearness without contact
causes numbness. Analgesia.

Pins and needles. As the snugness
of the surgeon’s glove causes hand fatigue.

At least this procedure
requires no swag or goody bags,

stuff bestowed upon the stars
at their luxe functions.

There’s no dress code,
though leg irons

are always appropriate.
And if anyone says what the hell

are you wearing in Esperanto—
Kion diable vi portas?

tell them anguish
is the universal language.

Stars turn to train wrecks
and my heart goes out,

admirers gush. Ground to a velvet!
But never mind the downside,

mon semblable, mon crush.
Love is just the retaliation of light.

It is so profligate, you know,
so rich with rush.

Alice Fulton
 The New Yorker,
August 2, 2010

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