Wolves Wait Wagging Winter


So I had a, I specifically read this as like one poem. But, I’m, like I don’t know, I mean you would think that it would work, it seems to work well as these like individual units, sort of, as they’re separated, or, is it, should it be pushed, like broken up, like I mean, yeah, like, essentially. Are you looking at the top of “4”? Yeah, actually. Yeah I, I marked that too. Um, because that one felt like it was like a stanza break from the one before it, you know, like the two lines were responding to the end of “3,” uh—I mean like there’s certainly precedent for like having a long poem that’s broken in numbers but only as like a bigger stanza break, um, and that, what’s, like, that felt like there. But, like, in other places it felt like it really needed to sort of step back and then, like, consume itself in a different way, right? Like if we get closer to the end, um, I think they need, the white space to be different, poems, you know? Yeah, “5.” So maybe it’s not always effective the way it’s split up. And I thought there was, there were some that I didn’t think worked necessarily alone or weren’t working alone the way that I wanted them too, er, um, but as an overall structural device I thought it had, it offered a lot to the poem. That sounds sort of similar to what you’re bringing up. Yeah, exactly. Yeah I mean I think there was like some, maybe, connective tissue, actually. Yeah the connections between a few of the sections are stronger and some, you know, there’s definitely some parts where it needs, it, they seem more like stand alone ideas and that kind of disrupts, the, the, you know, trying to appreciate it as a whole. I think we’re trying—I’m—it’s essentially the same thing. Yeah. When you read it, um, did you read this as a timeline of ideas? Like are we moving from one place to another as far as the text is concerned, do you think? You know what I mean? Well. Not, no, no, no. It’s not like, it’s definitely not like a point A to point B type of thing. Um, I don’t necessarily see, which, you know, maybe one of the reasons is like meditate, you know, the idea of, like, a meditation or chant. I mean there’s a lot of like refrain, echo, I think that, you know, resound here, and, so it doesn’t necessarily go somewhere, but you know, but, you know, you know it’s like, okay, okay, we could take out the numbers, push everything together, just read it as like one long block. So like I tried reading it that way and I tried to keep, you know, the, the first time I tried to respect the breaks made. Um, and I feel like each reading, you know it’s, like, it’s close, but neither seems like quite right in its current iteration, so.

What do you think, I’m sorry to interrupt with a question, but what is the function of these breaks?

I don’t, I don’t wanna speak to Elizabeth’s intentions, but I do think that, um, the tone of these poems is really quiet in ways, not sonically at all, but there are places where I need sort of a, like a, like a wide sort of barren transition in order to, like, move me from, like, what she’s established in one poem to what she’s—it seems to me like each piece is an attempt to establish an idea in a different way than before. And so they like expound on each other in this way and I want, like, I want that distance. Um, but I don’t, I don’t think that “2” and “3,” uh, connect as easily as you guys are saying that they do. I’m going to avoid the intention idea, but the way that I saw it operating in the best light here, was that it was one, like Annisa said “One idea,” um, to be shot from different angles, right? Almost as if we have a sculpture in a room and we’re standing at different places around it, um, which is a really terrible metaphor for, uh, thinking about poetry, but it’s sort of the way that I experienced it. Um, and so that, that sort of guided my reading of “2” and “3” is that there’s something different going on but it’s still sort of the same shot. Um, you know? Cause there was progression throughout the poem but more of an aggregate progression then like “We started here and now we’re somewhere else.” So. Yeah, yeah. I kind of viewed it as like taking (to sort of go to a different art form again) taking, uh, taking, uh, different negatives, uh, and exposing them onto the same sheet, er, photo, like, uh, like a double exposure. Um, but like taken at the same time, if that makes sense. Cause it seems like, especially with, once you give them a, a series of poems that have one title it seems as though that’s going to be the thing that you deal with. More often than not, right? And it seems like it’s all these different ideas kind of laying on top of each other but you’re presented with them all at the same time. So it’s kind of like doing the thing with different angles, but then it’s that, kind of, it, it’s that amalgamation you were talking about, rather than from here to here. That’s what, that’s why I asked that question, cause the way that I saw this is like a continue, eh, a continued rework, a continuation of reworking through what, through whatever way of these relatively similar, similar ideas and, uh, it’s kind of tricky as well. Yeah. Uh, I think your metaphor is actually better than mine, cause it’s not. It’s not. Cause they’re all different, right? Right. Like it’s not like this becomes a panorama where it’s like by the end you understand it. It’s more like they get layered and some things get blocked out and other things show up. Yeah, yeah. I think, as, as, you go on, not to say that it’s like a build up or whatever, but there, there is a confusion of images I, I think. Um, for sure. And you’re not entirely sure what’s what. There’s, cause, there’s not necessarily a confusion or a shift or, uh, a mutation or whatever of these images, of certain words, which I would have liked. I like that. I definitely thought that this was, you know, looking at something in, in different ways too, but I also feel too like there were changes. Um, it feels, I don’t know, towards the end, I got, I got, I just felt like it had more to do with, with, uh, death, and it seemed darker than it did at the beginning. I mean, um.

I think this brings us to an interesting point, uh, let’s, let’s try and, um, interpret what’s happening here. What’s, what’s this, what’s this about?

I took it as being about, um, like, the evolution of pregnancy. That’s what—I mean, I, uh, I, uh, I might be a complete idiot here. But I just, I just felt like this, it, it went well with that. Like, at first I wasn’t, I wasn’t exactly sure, but I was going with it. I liked it. But, um, and then I, I assumed that in the end, maybe, maybe, it just, I may be looking at it too literally, but, um, I felt that it was dealing with, you know either an unborn child, like a, um, an abortion or a, a miscarriage.

We’re going to need to see specific areas.

Well I was, um. Like in “2” could it be in “2”? Well, there, um—try to find it. There is “1” which starts out with “mine, yours, the caprice of / mourning or joy / our bodies are known / wet and dripping single.” Right, yeah “caprice of / mourning” and then. “2” you could go with “hesitations of muscle some / labeled dimple labeled a // lightening this knife seven inches.” Oh yeah, yeah. Um, and um, just, and even just at the end, the “my leafless heavy heart even the / echoes from beneath,” it’s like, so there seems to be this pause. You know? It’s what’s after—yeah, it just seems to be—yeah and there, there—I just thought of it as a meditation sort of, like, on the process, and then, um, and the loss at a distance of that. But you know the “palimpsest” thing, of a child from another body. That’s not anywhere near how I read it. I see it though, like, totally. Yeah, me too. I like that. But I, you know, I mean that’s, you know, that’s not the way that I tend to read poetry in terms of, you know, “What’s this supposed to be about?”. I—it isn’t for me either actually. I just, towards the end, I just thought “Huh.” Yeah. What I got was a sense of, I mean, you said “meditation” a lot. What I saw was, like, this extended sort of inquiry into the conception of the self as a physical body and, and the “palimpsest,” like, the removal of a past, or the past, or an original thing and then replacing it with something else all of which are made for the eye, or another’s eye. It’s interesting though, cause, like I wouldn’t say it is removed, exactly, nothing is really removed, just that it is changed. And, uh, the idea that, you know, you think of yourself as a singular being, but there’s actually a lot of space in your body and air and even atomic space. Um, and then, how do, how do we negotiate sorts of things like that. Um, and how much can you say that you have an identity even if you’re just sort of an image or palimpsest in someone else’s mind. I mean that, those were the, the senses I got, which maybe lend themselves to a really strange out-birth of narrative. Yeah, that’s, that’s kind of what I was dealing with, cause there’s, there’s definitely, there’s definitely a situation of like self-knowledge and self-learning and then the problems of that, because it seems to be suggesting that it’s a continual process, which I definitely believe that it is. And often those palimpsests of the self that we present outwards to other people for whatever reasons, um, those faces that we put on. And also there is a process of learning here. Um, there is, uh, a, a different idea of, like, coding of codes themselves, like the social codes: the code of you, the code of me, the code of my own self, the code of your belief in me, whatever. Um, what I—in taking that reading, cause there’s, there’s all of these images that in themselves seem to change. They seem to evolve in different ways. And then, so as I kept thinking about that and looking at it, we kind of go from this sense just in the construction and then how all of the images are presented in relation to each other, we seem to go from, um, this, kind of, like, concrete sense of self, or like, this, like, very, like understandable thing and then as it goes through it it starts to get convoluted and confused. Like, um, let’s see if I can find an example. Uh. It’s one poem that I really liked. It’s, if I can remember it—um, there’s this instance on “2,” right? that says that the water, er, well, I at least assume that is what we are dealing with but it, it, “cut the bank back in half / quarters thirds our reductive” and it’s, presumably, that’s the same place that they, where “we brandish under the water.” Um, and then, later in “7” there’s “and the water bit by tiny bit / cuts the banks and takes.” And then this image starts to, to come back up and then starts to mutate. And both deal with touch as well, I thought, like, touch from a body and between two separate things. That’s the part that I really liked in “7,” was like special forms of, or, um, specific aspects of a body: “your skin your hair / pubis head circular / around your tight coin nipples / a disguise reflected / for me.” And I thought that was a really nice set of lines, cause I was like, well, I didn’t know if bodies were real or at least how they were, you know, real in, in this, according to this poem. It doesn’t confirm that for me, you know?

How much did it—I wanna backtrack a little bit. You guys said that you don’t read for meaning, right? What do you mean by that?

I do. But it’s, I question it once I get there. What I meant by that was, I don’t, I don’t read necessarily, um, looking for one simple meaning, or “These poems are about trains,” you know? Nothing like that. Um, I, I read, I’m looking kind of for what’s, you know, maybe I’ll get literally what’s happening, but maybe it’ll be more of a, like an emotional thing, or, or, something like that. And that’s what—I started reading this and I wasn’t, I mean I definitely—my first reading of it, you know, um, I didn’t feel clear on specifics but I was picking up on—I was just paying attention to the imagery and trying to feel what that was maybe, um, you know, just trying to feel what that was supposed to make me feel, or what I thought that was supposed to make me feel. Then I saw, um, all these references, as I read it again, um, where this could actually, based on, you know, something like, um—it made sense to me that this was about birth, you know, having a miscarriage or something and, um, but, using that as like, as an opportunity to—I mean I would think during that process you’d be wondering a lot about yourself. And, so, many of these things have double meanings, you know? Not only wondering about the kid and stuff like that, as it grows and disappears, but also, um, about yourself and who you are, cause now, you’re kind of like two people. You’re, you’re changing. Um, there was one line, you know, “We change each other” and, or something like that. “We change this way.” At first I thought this was probably, you know, the sentiment of one lover to another lover, um, but then, or the self to the self, but then this, you know, this, it just made sense to me that this could be. So I mean, I don’t, I don’t, I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t really, I wasn’t reading it for anything specific. I was just reading and kind of going along with it and then it just ended up being that I thought that this could be, er, was about that. I mean the way that I, I just sort of—and maybe this is ignorance on my part, but I, I’m really sensitive against hyper-literalist readings, treating the poem as something that I need to solve, a code to figure it out. You know, I, I just sort of think that it’s a violence to wreak on the poem, right? That, like, to imagine the poet is wanting to say something but had to invent this language do it, which is, I think it is a little bit of ignorance on my part, but, um. I mean, yeah. It’s poet to poet, poem to poem. Yeah. Yeah. And some poems I don’t have that problem with, right? Like the Tretheway book, it was—I didn’t have a problem trying to figure out what the intention was. But when I get something like this I’m more interested in experiencing the language and seeing where it takes me, you know? And I’ve had that experience with other books, um, like some of Matt Wagner’s work is apparently about pregnancy and I didn’t get that, you know? That’s fine though. I enjoyed it regardless, you know? So, um, and I think that if I was told that this poem was about pregnancy, it wouldn’t take away from my feelings about it.

Leaves some of us confused. I think that happens a lot. Trying to make meaning, right?


You go outside and it’s, it’s cold, does this mean there’s traffic? There’s a bug in my ear; what does this mean about climate change? Or whatever. I understand you guys are saying about the literal. “The moral of the story is this and definitely not that.”


Right. There’s emotional meaning and there’s emotional content, you know, there’s, there’s, um, figurative content as well. A, a lot of these things can possibly hold some sort of impression or leave some sort of impression.

We don’t need to necessarily know what it’s capital “A” about.



Andrew M. Freiman received his MFA (poetry) from the University of Mississippi in 2015. "Wolves Wait Wagging Winter" is an excerpt from a larger work of fiction, The Pen is a Thing the Hand Already, which explores the poetry workshop, the creation of art in institutionalized contexts, and the lives of poets in the United States.