dependence

Aug 23, 2022 poetry appreciation

In the middle of a feverish round of Covid this poem dropped into my inbox (I guess it would be on the 4th July, now I come to think about it): ‘Dependence Day‘ by John Daniel. Struggling as I was with the necessary isolation of Testing Positive, I found the poem really hit home. See how you like it.

Daniels plays lightly with the events and vocabulary of Forth of July festivities to make his point. The poem starts tender and quiet but the single sentence grows in scope and scale, building to the meta-est of meta-positions until all of our vision is filled by the endless ‘light [which] needs nothing’. His use of repetition—’how the strongest branches in the wind/ give themselves as they resist, resist/ and give themselves’—is hypnotic and lovely; and the whole serves to remind us that life is a gift of, at times, inexpressible beauty. Of course, to read ‘Dependence Day’ in the context of unfolding climate catastrophe is particularly impactful. The grief and fear feel too much, most of the time. The poem is another reminder of the vulnerability (as well as culpability) which is making headlines every day, now.

On a smaller scale, though, the poem really spoke to my in-the-moment Coronareminder™ of the fact that we are social animals, made for inter- not in-dependence. How we need each other, in ways great and small; now more than ever.

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