More on Line Endings: Twofers

one_fish_two_fishSo I was thinking more about line endings while reading Nancy Willard’s book In the Salt Marsh and I came across some twofers (two for the price of one) in her poem “The Snow Arrives After Long Silence.” A twofer is what I call it when you read a line of a poem one way and then when you read the next line, you get a second meaning to the first line. For example, the poem starts:

The snow arrives after long silence

from its high home where nothing leaves

and you think that snow is coming from a place nothing can come from because nothing ever leaves there. But read those two lines with the third line:

tracks or stains or keeps time.

Then it makes sense that in the homeland of snow nothing leaves tracks, since snow covers tracks. This kind of careful writing invites equally careful reading to get all the possibilities. Here is another:

All day the snow sets its table

with clean linens, putting its house

in order. The hungry deer walk

on the risen loaves of snow.

So the first sentence is a simple image, but by enjamming the last two words of it with the beginning of the next sentence, we get a second image of the deer walking in order. Nifty, huh?

Willard, Nancy. In the Salt Marsh. New York: Knopf, 2004.Windsor_German_wiki_GNU-Martin_Morgenstern

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