“All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light”: Barbara Crooker’s “Strewn”

Not exactly right, but you get the idea.

Not exactly right, but you get the idea.

Last week, my uncle, who lives in Maine, came for a visit, which was excellent in all respects except that it was too short. And it just so happened that last week’s American Life in Poetry column, curated by Ted Kooser (which I highly recommend as a way to get into poetry–the poems are about the experiences of everyday life, and are always accessible) featured a poem by Barbara Crooker about the Maine coast.

“Strewn” is beautifully detailed. I love the list of broken shells that the speaker describes, and the idea of the sunlight on the beach like “a rinse / of lemon on a cold plate.” But it’s the turn at the end of the poem that brings the other people on the beach—and by extension the reader—into the speaker’s orbit that still resonates for me days after reading the poem.

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6 thoughts on ““All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light”: Barbara Crooker’s “Strewn”

  1. That is a really nice poem. I loved the “rinse of lemon on a cold plate.” That’s just terrific. I also liked the phrase “every dog within 50 miles is off-leash,” although honestly, for me, the poem would have been better without people and dogs, which images felt to me as if they were competing with (and distracting from) from the cold, shiny, sparkly, implicitly blue, lemony images of the broken shells on the sand. Overall, a very nice poem. Thank you.

    • I see what you’re saying about the presence of the walkers and the dogs, but I think they’re in the poem to provide context (the natural beauty doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s observed, not only by the speaker, but by the other people on the beach and even in a small way by the dogs) and grounding, in that they are part of the “us” in the poem’s last lines.

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