‘Mandible Wishbone Solvent’ — Pass 1 of 3

“Mandible Wishbone Solvent,” by Asiya Wadud (Poetry, March 2022)

roped in incremental ghost tens / future tens clairvoyant tens home tens // blue slips beneath the exposed wing / tilt then seam then an angle spent all inside / the distance between thumb and thimble and fingerprint // height exceeds then brims / makes a solvent of it // …

To process this first portion of text beyond an impression of “something doing this thing and another thing, then that thing,” I fall back on applying markers that help me speculate what propositions it may hold.

Roped in incremental ghost tens, future tens, clairvoyant tens, home tens, blue slips beneath the exposed wing tilt, then seam, then an angle spent all inside the distance between thumb and thimble and fingerprint. Height exceeds, then brims, makes a solvent of it.

There are two sentences. The subject of the first sentence is “blue.”

The blue is “roped in” — somehow contained, if not restrained — by the decimal unit “tens.” Tens is ticking upwards, perhaps measuring the extent of blue’s “slips” delineated in the predicate. Tens, like an exoplanet, has four moon-like attributes: “ghost,” “future,” “clairvoyant” and “home.” Each orbits the arithmetic substantive darkly, exerting an imprecise gravity on its cryptic mass. A wan light travels from modifier “clairvoyant,” whose extrasensory vibe chimes with the stanza’s delphic nebulosity.

Blue “slips,” conveying a motion more angular and eccentric than frontal. The predicate details three orientations of blue, relative to locations on the “exposed wing,” which pinpoint progressive degrees of slippage: first to the wing’s “tilt,” which would afford a visual of its underside; then to the “seam” — perhaps a bone such as the ulna (mentioned later in the poem); finally, to a tiny angle somehow “spent all inside” the micro-span between a thumb touching the thimble worn on a middle finger, or between the finger itself and the fingerprint of the digit that wears it.

The subject of the second sentence is “height.”

Height “exceeds” something not specified; perhaps the verb is used intransitively, in the sense of increasing self-referentially, surpassing only itself. Whereupon this height of which we speak reaches an unspecified edge, a plenitude verging on overtopping, and in the course of brimming “makes a solvent of it.” Something referenced by “it” is converted to a dissolving agent by soaring height; but what is “it”? I venture that “it” is “blue”: height makes a solvent of blue. Blue is the color of distance, after all. Distance, in the fullness of altitude, goes colorless and ungraspable.

(To be continued…)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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4 Responses to ‘Mandible Wishbone Solvent’ — Pass 1 of 3

  1. I am so impressed by your analysis, your knowledge of language which allows you to do it and your resourcefulness that prompts you to carry it out. The repetition of ‘tens’ had me panicking immediately and my first thought was to exclude them. Then I got tired and jumped to your analysis! I’m sure your way, is one way to approach this poem and I’d really like to know if the poet thought it got you to the intended understanding. How we could ever find that out, I’ve no idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • JMN says:

      Thank you for your generous remarks, OA! Another set of eyes besides mine on something I’m contemplating is a blessing. On a scale of one to ten, my confidence level that I may have hit on anything the poet intended is minus-one! But as you conclude, how can one know what’s in the poet’s mind? The poet emits a signal to decode with what faculties one has. I only know to piece words into phrases and see where they lead. Pursued with a certain insistence, that process can take on a life of its own with uncharted outcomes.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: ‘Mandible Wishbone Solvent’ — Pass 2 of 3 | EthicalDative

  3. Pingback: Cry the Belovèd Reader | EthicalDative

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