Mar 15, 2004

"and no doubt could buy it again"
Woundwood, my uncle's latest work, has truly impressed me.

The poem is marked by a symmetry that is developing rather than repetitive- beginning with an extra fine Watermen felt tip pen and ending with "This same Waterman pen/for virtually all my poems/ for the past twenty years," beginning with a boy singing and ending with his brother joining him on the chorus.

It's the progress that makes the symmetry deeply satisfying to me. What I am attracted to in Woundwood is the calm, the maturity as peace. Here, Ron's wolves appear and he knows they are dreams; he knows his monsters are outgrown but lingering, dusty duplos; he knows the terror of war is offset by the grin of a child. Criticism - the biting and the stupid - has come up regularly in Ron's work as he tries to deal with it: admit to it, defend against it, consider it, crush it. It's the last response I discovered I had by seeing it in my uncle. It is the last response always tempting me, the response of unmuted rage at not being taken seriously, that brawlers demand to "let me at him," that urge to crush the opponent.

Ron once told me he was whittling away at the chip on his shoulder. He was getting older and it smaller. In Woundwood the criticisms come again but this time they hang, they rest, they are accepted and he's not angry at his detractors and his devils. The response is a peace, a contentedness.

Let them gather dust in dark corners. I could have done nothing else and they were there, part of it.