“Sophomores” by Meghan O’Rourke
W.W. Norton & Company, 2007
It’s America, 1993, and the malls
are cool and clean. Don’t you know,
like me, no one gets out alive.
For my last “Poetry at the Post” this cycle, I decided—after 18 worldwide poets— to return home with a writer who has ties to this part of Texas.
I read O’Rourke’s Halftime several years ago and several of the poems touched me deeply. Yesterday afternoon, while dusting (so much endless dusting in the desert…) and rearranging books, I rediscovered Halflife. I flipped through it at random and settled on “Sophomores.”
As we know, a poet’s poem becomes something else in the hands of each reader. Shaped by personal experiences, we see things in them that perhaps were never meant to be.
Last fall, I spent a few months living in Medellin,Colombia in a high rise apartment within walking distance of an upscale mall. It was super: swank pool, tropical landscape and two large patios with views of the Andes and the city below. However, if I just wanted to step out for a walk and grab a bite to eat, pick up some milk, etc. I had to go to the mall.
The little I knew before hand about Medellin did not prepare me for the locals’ love of Malls. Everything is in the malls, including the supermarkets.
“Weren’t you scared in Colombia?” I’m often asked. Not necessarily but I was careful. However, I did have a fear that I would never “get out of the malls.”
Of course, O’Rourke’s poetry is so much more than malls and my musings on my past.
My favorite line from “Sophomores” is “I’m the princess with a hole in my heart.” I’ve felt like that before. Perhaps not a princess, but a woman with a “hole in her heart.”
I look forward to reading O’Rourke’s newest book The Long Goodbye, A Memoir.