Thursday, June 18, 2009


I found yet another poem in The New Yorker that I would like to share. This one is called "Treatment" and is obviously on the same topic. I like the way the poet explores treatment and how someone going through treatment might see it. The poet uses very clever word play and images to make one see and feel as if one is going through treatment.

Let's see what you think. Enjoy.


by Ange Mlinko

It's a little spa for the mind--seeing butterflies
set themselves down by the dozen like easels

on bromeliads, when out of the street the boutiques
are dilapidated, construction can't be told from ruin.

A single taste bud magnified resembles an orchid
but what that one's drinking from is a woman's eye

which must be brineless. I wonder what she consumes
that her tears taste like fructose. For minutes she's all its.

Then the moon rises and the river flows backward.
Composed of millions of tiny north poles, iron's

punched out of the environment, hammered into railways.
Pubs serve shephard's pies with marcelled mashed-potato crusts

and each tree casts its shade in the form of its summary leaf.
Is a woman's eye a single taste bud magnified?

Yet construction can't be told from ruin.
Out on the street the boutiques are dilapidated

by the dozen like easels. And the mind--it's a little spa.

I really like the use of repetition throughout the poem. It emphasizes treatment and how the mind needs to continue to learn and go back through previous events to come to certain conclusions. When in treatment, one must also continue to focus on a certain mantra or overall theme on which to focus. I also like how it was not worded exactly the same because our lives do repeat themselves, but they do in slightly different fashions each time.

My favorite line: "Yet construction can't be told from ruin." I love seeing treatment as construction--you're rebuilding the soul and healing parts that need repair. And, from ruin you can really go up. But, you can't talk about construction from ruin; it's only when the "house" is complete that one can look back and reflect and see how treatment really was, or how ineffective it was. I like looking at the soul or a person as a house that can go under construction and can also fall to ruin. It's a creative image.

Also, I see the easel almost like that surface on which we can keep creating and changing ourselves. It's not the palet, it's not the clean slate, it's the easel. It holds up how we can keep shifting ourselves, becoming weaker and stronger, which I find quite an interesting idea. Life is a constant shifting of ourselves, and it's how we paint that portrait of ourselves that is really quite fascinating.

Now, I'm sure some of the other random images in there have some sort of purpose, but I also wondered if they were randomly placed as to allude to the "crazy" person in treatment. This person may say things that seem really "crazy" but in effect are really meaningful. I'm sure they all make sense somehow, but I can't piece them all together.

Thinking about it, I'm sure the butterfly image is in there to suggest the transformation of the soul in treatment. Once a caterpillar, the soul can transform to a new soul, one who is healthier and stronger, much like a butterfly. That new soul is then more colorful and can fly, and you could never tell that the two things were once the same.

Drinking from a woman's eye?? To take in all that woman is seeing? To take another's experience and learn from it? Maybe to see the harm you might have caused on others to see how you can grow yourself from that? Maybe to see your effect on others to help your own treatment and to help out those you have previously hurt? What does that line mean then? Am I way off?

I also like the image of the tree and the leaves. Treatment can also be like a tree which constantly changes but always grows. It continues to shed its leaves and become new every season. Sometimes the tree looks ugly and sometimes it looks beautiful, just like humans go through stages like this too. But, it's all inevitable. We just need to embrace those dark winters we humans face to get over it (perhaps through treatment) and to come into the light to be positive and strong.

And what's up with shephard's pies? My brother loves them to death, but what do they have to do with treatment? I know they're a mish-mash of food, but what is the significance with treatment?

Lastly, I like the reference of treatment as a spa for the mind. It seems so obvious, but it's so clever. I wonder if this was the nugget the poet had in mind and then this poem budded from that thought. That's the initial feeling I got from the poem. Sometimes I have one line that permeates through my mind, and I want to capture it somehow. And sometimes all it takes to get a poem or a story or a blog going is to just start with that one line. Then the rest follows. It's very cool when such a beautiful phrase like that can repeat in your mind. I hope that's how it happened to the poet.

So, what do you think of "Treatment?"

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