- For Lack of What Is Found There
On the highway from the Bronxto Manhattan in his sleek,spotless car, my steely-spinedboss displays his honed techniquefor New York driving, never honkshis horn no matter what life brings,uses smartphone apps to findout which are the emptiest streets,always stays 400 feetbehind the car he's following.
Though he does all that he canto ensure the ride is smooth,soon my stomach jerks and writheswith unease that can't be soothedby mundane maneuvers. Onething, and one thing only, couldmake this nausea subside:in a whispering voice, I startchanting poems I know by heart,hoping that their charm's still good.
Auden's "Lullaby," the poemthat opens, "Lay your sleeping head, …"is the first to spring to mind.Its trochaic rhythms spreada snow-blanket of deep calmover my queasy abdomen,while its complex net of rhymestraps each nippy little fishthat makes my cerebellum twitch,putting me to rights again. [End Page 440]
It's been claimed that poetryhas the power to change the world:Shelley once declared with gallthat, far from flags that snap and furltheir loud colors in the breeze,poets bathrobed and pajama'dmake the laws; the Spring and Allbard concurred that men die sadwhen verse is scarce. To this, I'd add:that one time, I didn't vomit. [End Page 441]
Physician and educator JENNA LE (jennalewriting.com) authored Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books 2018; first edition published by Anchor & Plume, 2016), which won second place in the 2017 Elgin Awards. Her poetry appears in Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, West Branch, and elsewhere.