A poem ‘Miss Jenkins’ by Julia Copus

(from The World’s Two Smallest Humans published by faber and faber, ISBN978-0-571-28457-3)

          First, please click the following to read the poem. 

          I took a part in a poet Julia Copus’ poetry workshop in 2012. At that time I purchased the above book. In 2019 now my understanding of the book has a bit advanced. I can enjoy some poems in the book and further want to know more about the background of every poem and Heroides (as quote in a poem 'HERO').

          Here, I would like to read the poem ‘Miss Jenkins’ with a palindrome form requiring high skill (the book also includes a poem ‘Raymond, at 60’ with the same form).

          Finely portrayed is one recalling scene of Miss Jenkins’ working days (maybe she was previously a teacher). In both stanzas, a phrase “when absence thickened the air” is impressive at the beginning and ending, respectively, making me imagine her past time in stillness, as if seeing a sequence of passing scenes after twilight or afterimages through a train window. Her bygone frames in the classroom came and went, closer and far in mind. A light place “streetlights coming on” and a dark place “in the dim” could imply the light and shadow of her retrospection with a sense of loneliness. Rhyming and images are exquisite in the fourth line of the first stanza and the last forth line of the second one. In the eleventh and twelfth lines of the first stanza and the fifth and sixth lines of the second one, she seemed to be in a dream or REM sleep. Her emotions might have been layered and lingered on, slowly flowed as viewing a double-page picture with a symmetric form. Although not in a classroom, Edward Hopper’s work pops up in me. Anyway, beautiful bloom with quietness.

Picture Child Reiko by Ryusei Kishida