Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Wood That We Carry: Looking Inside A Shed for Wood

The Wood That We Carry:  Looking Inside A Shed for Wood

            Religion, love, death, and nature are more than just themes in Daniel Thomas Moran’s poetry collection, A Shed for Wood; (Salmon Poetry) they are what life is built around.  Moran handles these life subjects with delicacy, while at the same time sprinkling humor in-between the lines.  This refreshing way of looking at poetry and life gives new hope for things that society has lost faith in.  By playing with words with or without a rhyme scheme, comparing animals with God, and using capitalization to enhance a point, Moran is able to show how one can take control of his or her own life and how he or she views it.  Instead of being warped by society’s expectations and opinions of what is around us, we are the ones who get to choose what matters to us. 

            One of the poems that I feel like is at the heart of this collection and speaks for a lot of Moran’s themes as a whole is his poem, “Fiona”.  The poem starts off by describing the narrator’s red cat, and how she sleeps on him in the “long darkness”.  This image gives nighttime a shape, and makes me picture an unseen shadow.  Moran is able to show us this image of a cat that we cannot see, yet we can feel her and imagine her stretched out.  It is immediately evident that the connection between the narrator and the cat is extremely powerful, as are many relationships in nature.  The narrator admits that Fiona is “comforted by things of me I cannot sense”, which shows that this is a spiritual bond that they have.  Although Moran does not mention God in this line, and is not speaking of a conventional religion, it sounds like he is saying that he believes in the intuition between a cat and a man.  It is clear that in this poem and in life animals and humans have their own belief systems when they are together. 

            Another important poem that stood out to me is the one called “Blue Heron”.  Moran cleverly utilizes an elegant animal to make a statement about the way that people live in today’s society.  The narrator of this poem shows that the blue heron wants to be seen, and wants you to pay close attention.  This heron is ready for whatever he is going to be faced with, even if it comes at him fast.  I feel like Moran is saying that we can learn a lot from this heron being in this composed, Zen-like state.  The heron is not moving, unlike people who are constantly running around.  Moran writes:
            In the moving world,
            like the rock which
            is his perch,
            He must be the stillness.

Moran’s technique of having some lines stand alone really enhances the simplicity and beauty of this poem.  When lines stand alone it forces the reader the slow down. Each line should be read slowly, because in nature we rush through things and miss what is important.  As the poem moves on, it completely evolves to have a Zen feeling to it.  The heron is now one with the rain, the fish, and his surroundings.  The reader is made to feel that the heron has no worries, and that nothing bad or unexpected could happen to the heron because he is at peace with himself and the universe.  The last line says, “The fish is himself” which shows how the heron knows that by eating the fish they become one entity.  The heron is not cognitively aware of religion, love, death, or even what nature is, but he has the intuition of the earth. 

            Overall, I feel like this poetry collection is called A Shed for Wood for good reason.  For me, the meaning of this title comes from the idea that wood is crucial for housing and heat, which helps us sustain life.  And this book behaves like a storage unit for such life, and everything that it entails.  As readers, it is up to us to make each piece of wood count for something, and to carry it as far as we can go.  We are capable of creating a house of new meaning, and it is important to invite others in.  

Emily Pineau is the author of No Need to Speak( Endicott College/Ibbetson Street Press Young Poet Series)

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