Humming Nasals

I first read “Indian Boarding School: The Runaways” in class. (I think I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.) This was in college, after having discovered the joy of analyzing the sound of poetry, so I sound analyzed this one for class. I like the subject matter of these poems, and the imagery pounds down around you, always coming back to that main idea, but after reading it over and over, I found a single chord humming from the page. In the first half of the poem, Louise Erdrich uses a lot liquids (l and r sounds). It gives the words a feeling of consonance. Then, in the second half, she breaks into nasals (m and n sounds.) This is right around the part where she speaks of the humming highway, and the use of nasals allows the reader to hear the highway himself. For this reason, I have been obsessed with the word “hum,” ever since reading this poem. (Maybe next time I need to write about silence humming.) You can read it yourself here.

I have no introduction for my poem today. You can decide for yourself if it fits thematically with the above:

In the spring, the ice breaks and grass grows where it’s able.
Caged birds watch their free counterparts take flight.
Letters lay unsent upon my table.
I’m sorry. I’m too busy now to write.


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