The Friday Poem on 29/10/21
All parents know how hard it is to explain to a child why the world is how it is, and Jonathan Totman describes this experience perfectly in his poem ‘Frozen’ — a loose, unrhymed sonnet — which references the popular Disney film. His poem is tender, intimate, and so human; we feel keenly the father’s desire to protect the innocence of the child. This is a powerful poem, made more so by its formal restraint. Definitely one for our front page.
She wants to know what makes the villain
lift his sword. I tell her sometimes people do
bad things when they’re sad or angry or scared
and we wonder about the brothers who pretended
he was invisible, literally, for two whole years;
but what made them be so mean – no,
what made the first person mean? she asks,
seeing a long trail of hurt stretching back
like some terrible game of tag. Good question,
I say, good question, as if the genesis of cruelty was
a tricksy puzzle I might gently guide her through,
tracing it back to the moment a heart hardened,
the speed and slip of it, beating in the cold,
a drop of blood falling warm on the snow.