Reading: The Way Things Work by Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham (b. 1950) is another famous North American poet with a unique style. Pulitzer Prize 1996. Here is The way things work:

The way things work
is by admitting
or opening away.
This is the simplest form
of current: Blue
moving through blue;
blue through purple;
the objects of desire
opening upon themselves
without us; the objects of faith.
The way things work
is by solution,
resistance lessened or
increased and taken
advantage of.
The way things work
is that we finally believe
they are there,
common and able
to illustrate themselves.
Wheel, kinetic flow,
rising and falling water,
ingots, levers and keys,
I believe in you,
cylinder lock, pully,
lifting tackle and
crane lift your small head–
I believe in you–
your head is the horizon to
my hand. I believe
forever in the hooks.
The way things work
is that eventually
something catches.

She opens the poem away, okay. She describe the way nature works, looking for solutions and advantage taken of changing levels of resistance. It sounds like a lecture in evolutionary biology. Of course it is human nature she is writing about in these short stammering lines. The object of desire is likened to the objects of faith, they enjoy some kind of independence from us by opening upon themselves. All we need to do is believe in them and that they are themselves enough.

Wait! This poem is about specific things: machines with water flowing through. What kind of machine is this? What is the small head? And which are hooks that eventually hold something? This poem feels a bit too much like a riddle to my taste, it’s not the way poetry works for me. But perhaps you have a better idea?

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