Analysis of a poem by Levine titled The Right Cross.
|The Right Cross
An Analysis of Levine’s Poem by Mary Faderan
Levine starts this poem with the setting in the Great Central Valley, the
"home for the homeless, the fruit pickers/of creation..."
And slowly recounts that he is in search of the right cross. He feels that had he mastered it forty years ago, that he may not be in this hopeless situation he is in now.
"...might have saved me from the worst."
He describes the rituals of his session with the body bag, and his descriptions are unique and his metaphors are new -
"...grunting as blows crumple, the air going out/and coming back in little hot benedictions."
He gets into it as he remembers the coach, Nate Coleman's words instructing him how to get the right cross perfectly. He starts weak
"...I feel how fragile my left wrist has become..."
But then he hears Nate calling "Let it go!" And Levine imagines Nate taking him physically through the paces of how the right cross is executed. The words he uses are descriptive, and it becomes more graphic when he starts to "feel his words..."
The best lines of the poem (that I really enjoyed) are:
"They say it's magic. When it lands/you feel the force of your whole body,/even the deeper organs, the dark fluids/that go untapped for decades, the tiny/pale microbes haunting the bone marrow,/the intricate patterns that devised/ the bones of the feet, you feel them/finally coming together like so many/atoms of salt and water as they form/ an ocean or a tear..."
These show the organic mechanism of how a right cross comes all the way from plain salt and water atoms in the body, moving through the bone marrow and the bones of the feet – the whole body.
The excitement that I feel as I read the mounting tension of how he remembers how the right cross is executed, to the moment when he says
"...doused/in my own juices, I call it quits"
And then he eats dinner and walks among the grape vines, where he started at the beginning of the poem, homeless among creation.
I like this poem very much – Levine starts out slow and builds up to the peak of how he is physically transformed by the right cross and then he remembers that he is now out of the ring, and abandoned by his son and picking fruits all alone.