“Untitled,” Anselm Hollo

Untitled (from the April 2013 Poetry, inside the front cover)
Anselm Hollo

the way
the blue room
lights up

as you turn to
  be held
and to hold me



Loving the artistry of this little poem. We go through our blue period, as if our mental image is that of a Picasso painting and only a Picasso painting. That’s how I’m playing with “the way / the blue room / (remembered)” – the memories are something we’re reconstructing and making blue as we do it. This is our way and it feels, for a second, like we don’t have control. Still, it is essential to think of an actual blue room given how terse the poem is.

That room “lights up.” Our mind’s disappointment was always expectation. Is this an illusion about to occur? A mental trick?

Hollo sets off “be held” and “beholder” to emphasize the parallel. The key that something amazing happened here doesn’t quite start with the beloved willingly being held and holding the speaker. I think it has to be the turn, the humanity that memory so easily washes over. That turn is itself being held and holding the beholder, it is its purpose. We want to know in what way the “you” is present: this is just a memory, right?

Yes, but. It’s a memory where the speaker wants to see. The beloved is there inasmuch she isn’t there. There isn’t a single detail describing her in this poem – there’s more about the room and its color and light. The beloved is literally absent, at most a likeness. The key to the absence is that the speaker does see what he wants, himself as accepted beholder. Her turn to him is exactly reciprocal.

This is a realization about love, I think. This is a rejection of the “thrill of the chase I can get anyone I want” or “I prayed every day for so-and-so” type of love. It is seeing, in something incredibly romantic, something just and equal and feasible. To have one’s love accepted is the dream, just that. To remember that is to stay grounded – held – as fantasies fly overhead, making the sky a darker shade of blue.

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