One summer I found Susan Mitchell’s The Water Inside the Water (Wesleyan UP, 1983) at a small used bookstore in Sonora, California. I took it back to my in-laws’ house and read the whole thing on their porch in one sitting, completely enraptured by her music and imagery. Here’s one of my favorites, from www.poetryfoundation.org:
I love the way the imagery from earlier in the poem shows up in that last stanza–I love that she becomes like a tree when “sap freezes under her skin,” and her “breath leaves white apples in the air.” My very, very favorite part of this poem, though, is the last image, “the moon / trapped like a salmon in the ice.” This figure mirrors why the bear has to hibernate in the first place–the imagery is so beautiful because it comes from the bear’s own point of view, the bear’s own imaginary system.
YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Write a stanza of a narrative poem–that is, write a poem that tells a story about a character, and use as much sensory imagery as you can (using all five senses). Then, write a final stanza that takes that sensory imagery as a metaphor for the main character, or vice versa–as the bear in this poem begins by stretching to reach the apples, she ends by being compared to a tree. Try that kind of reversal in your poem. Alternately, you could tell the last stanza from the character’s point of view–how would the character describe this scene in a different way from how you the poet would?