In “Very Many Hands,” Aaron Coleman establishes the landscape for his book, “Threat Come Close,” a collection of poems, by understanding the stories and experiences of migrants ancestors in various geographic areas, such as Mississippi, San Diego, and Detroit. By exploring ancestral migrant locations of the past, Coleman identifies a form for this poem “that always speaks to [him].” In the poem, Coleman writes, “I am made of what I am afraid to remember,” as he then asks, “Come tell me more about what I was.” By creating a form of poetically understanding the migrants’ journey, Coleman reflects on himself, as he writes, “I am stitched together with the risk inside Desire,” which leads to further questions: “Who was it? Who watched as I stood there too in line, too silent, trying to fall behind, an almost question in my near-new eyes?”
With each self-reflection, more questions arise that strive to learn about those “very many hands” of the past.
With this idea that Coleman provides of “how form can help speak in a certain way,” I’m interested to learn how we can learn about some of the other poems provided, such as “Ice Storm” by Robert Hayden. This poem consists of three stanzas. The first stanza appears to be within the thoughts of the speaker as they are “unable to sleep, or pray, [but] stand by the window looking out at moonstruck trees [as] a December storm has bowed with ice” The form of the poem then shifts to a description of nature as cracked maple, and ash branches struggle to withstand the icy surroundings and end up falling on the soft snow. The third stanza seems to act almost like a confrontation between nature and the speaker, as the speaker questions to God, ” am I less to You, my God, than they?”
This poem’s form of self reflection, descriptions of nature, and confrontation, seems to help the speaker understand their relationship with God more clearly. How do you think poets use form in poetry to understand themselves better?