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Poem of the Week - ‘[Sometimes I don’t know if I’m having a feeling]’ by Matthew Siegel

Some of the most compelling poems are those which describe a feeling that can’t quite be named, but that the poet can conjure up in such a clear and insightful way that we understand exactly what he or she means, even though we couldn’t explain how. It is an art of which Matthew Siegel is an indisputable master, skillfully drawing the reader into the simultaneously familiar and alien world of illness that he depicts in his latest collection, Blood Work (CB Editions, 2015).

The poem below is my personal favourite from the collection, but it’s an extremely close call. In fact, in the book this poem is partnered with an equally great one entitled ‘[And sometimes I know I am having a feeling]’. I considered making this week a double-feature, but then I decided I’d been nice enough already…


[Sometimes I don’t know if I’m having a feeling]

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m having a feeling
so I check my phone or squint at the window
with a serious look, like someone in a movie
or a mother thinking about how time passes.
Sometimes I’m not sure how to feel so I think
about a lot of things until I get an allergy attack.
I take my benedryl with beer, thank you very much,
sleep like a cut under a band aid, wake up
on the stairs having missed the entire party.
It was a real blast, I can tell, for all the vases
are broken, the flowers twisted into crowns
for the young, drunk and beautiful. I put one on
and salute the moon, the lone face over me
shining through the grates on the front door window.
You have seen me like this before, such a strange 
version of the person you thought you knew.
Guess what, I’m a strange to us both. It’s like
I’m not even me sometimes. Who am I? A question
for the Lord only to decide as She looks over
my résumé. Everything is different sometimes.
Sometimes there is no hand on my shoulder
but my room, my apartment, my body are containers
and I am thusly contained. How easy to forget
the obvious. The walls, blankets, sunlight, your love.

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