Creatures by Billy Collins
Hamlet noticed them in the shapes of clouds,
but I saw them in the furniture of childhood,
creatures trapped under surfaces of wood,
one submerged in a polished sideboard,
one frowning from a chair-back,
another howling from my mother’s silent bureau,
locked in the grain of maple, frozen in oak.
This poem (click on the title to read the whole thing) captivates me but I can’t decide if it’s whimsical or disturbing. Perhaps it’s all of those things. The initial word choices (trapped, submerged, frowning, howling, locked) build a dark and ominous tone, but some of the lines are funny, in an exaggerated or overstated way, especially toward the end.
“taking the thing from you and flinging it out
over the sparkle of blue waves
so it could live out its freakish existence
on the dark bottom of the sea
and stop bothering innocent beachgoers like us,
stop ruining everyone’s summer.”
Whether it’s creepy or quirky, it has me looking for faces “trapped” around me. When I visited some interesting rock formations recently, I found myself thinking again of this poem and looking for those faces. I was mesmerized by the swirls and whirls and pits of these rocks. The more I looked, the more I felt like there must be faces there if only I looked in just the right way. Do you see any in this one?
Or in this one?
I confess, I didn’t ever see any in the top photo, but here’s what I saw in the second one:
Did you see it? What do you think about Creatures–quirky or creepy?
For more poetry, go to Tara’s blog A Teaching Life
for the Poetry Friday Roundup.
*Note–I apologize for the odd spacing. The only advice I could find on line about fixing it involved making code changes–That scared me much more than howling faces locked in rock and wood!