Leslie Adrienne Miller on “Cove”
“Cove” is one of series of poems I’ve been working on about the ways we remove ourselves mentally and physically (or fail to) from the bombardment of bad news, toxic people, general anxiety, the intractable demands of our own bodies, and much else that conspires to claim our attention. “Cove” predates the Marie Kondo craze to embrace minimalism, and while it doesn’t exactly celebrate the shedding of material acquisitions, it does examine the female urge to take shelter from the consuming projects of social and domestic management. Luxury, for many of us, is ironically, the illusion of having nothing, of shedding layers of conscious and subconscious management of schedules, people, domiciles. Going north into the woods, is often, for me, a slow, solitary, and deliberate winnowing of debilitating kinds of consciousness.
The form of the poem is tidy quintets that pit spare, sharp Anglo-Saxon nouns and verbs against Latinates like “luxury” and “liberty.” Often, those contrasts are heightened by sound echo as in “carapace” and “hiss.” The title, “cove,” describes both specific kinds of shore and domestic interior associated with privacy and shelter, and it’s a word rich in multiple meanings. I’m also playing with the “lux” in “luxury” a little bit here, varieties of light and luminosity being things that driving, solitude, vistas of water, and freedom from obligations afford us. And that moment when you suddenly realize you are out of cell phone range—that too is luxury and shelter from all kinds of storm!