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These are some notes towards an interpretation of My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole by Kristen Stewart. At first it seems quite oblique, but I think cumulatively the poem is about how she is isolated with and alienated from the person she loves: she looks for signs of affection, knowing she can’t hold on to them: they pore out her porous heart, and yet she is drunk on these tiny morsels. This is what it is to love the man who says he is a rock, an island.

Image

//My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole//
Wiffle balls are light and perforated. This image of the pierced heart that cannot hold its blood (feelings?) is the key to this poem. The freedom pole is the cohering image for the second part of the poem, and represents isolation-as-freedom.

//I reared digital moonlight//
She cultivated a habit of staying inside, at night or in day with curtains drawn, in the glare of a screen. More figuratively, she has isolated herself, but superficially she is in company. On the internet we are all together, alone.

//You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black//
Following the image, ‘You’ read the clock on the laptop, it was obvious what time it was. To the recipient of the poem it was clear what she was like.

//Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen//
She (or is it ‘you’? does this modify the previous or the next line?) felt disappointed, but more than that, that her disappointment permeated everything and was inevitable. In second reading, it’s obvious now that the initial sentence that emerged in her mind was ‘kismetly crest fallen’, which is perhaps too alliterative for the sentiment. The jarring ‘ubiquitously’ breaks this up, the dissonance of structure reinforcing the mood of the line.

//Thrown down to strafe your foothills//
This is a nice extended metaphor: she has fallen off the crest, and is side-stepping in the foothill below ‘your’ great heights.

//…I’ll suck the bones pretty.//
She’ll try to make the most out of the poor situation but she know’s its impossible. You literally can’t suck bones pretty.

//Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps//
The discrete pumpings of an organ (the heart) are abrasive and perforated: it hurts for her heart to beat and each beat is made weaker/futile by your presence.

//Spray painted everything known to man,//
The blood sprays out the perforated heart, coating everything. This is spray which has painted, not a spray-painting. Stewart again re-enlivens a dead metaphor.

//Stream rushed through and all out into
Something /
Her life-blood (cleverly never directly alluded to but implied by the unifying heart metaphor), pumps into the wiffle ball heart and streams out into a known unknown.

/Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck
Through our windows boarded up//
So, the light outside starts to break in and disturb the self-imposed darkness. (This being stuck inside thing is the second unifying metaphor)

//He hit your flint face and it sparked.//
So, the ‘sun’ was a metaphor for another man, who starts to impose on this unhealthy relationship. He strikes the ‘you’ sparking (great imagery here) something…

//And I bellowed and you parked//
She’s perturbed by the fighting (which might or might not be figurative) and ‘you’ held your ground.

//We reached Marfa.//
A town in Texas, in the middle of a desert. While this town was probably chosen because she was writing this poem during a road trip, the town itself is another metaphor for the freedom pole.

//One honest day up on this freedom pole//
Calls to mind the Simeon stylites on their poles in the desert. Freedom as isolation. Marfa in the desert, together alone.

//Devils not done digging
He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle//
Despite (or because of) isolating themselves further, their relationship continues to be racked with misunderstandings.

//And this pining erosion is getting dust in
My eyes//
This erosion of their relationship is painful but also makes it harder for her to see the situation clearly.

//And I’m drunk on your morsels//
But she’s still in thrall to him: drunk on even the tiny morsels of attention/love/??? that he gives her or that she reads into what he says.

//And so I look down the line//
And so she doesn’t seek an alternative to this life she’s found herself in

//Your every twitch hand drum salute
Salutes mine …//
She looks to his tiny movements for a sign of affirmation

 

[edit. 17.02.14 – realised I’d spelt her name wrong! Sorry!]

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