Sonnet Isolate

Anne Carson

‘I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.’

Marcel Duchamp

A sonnet is a rectangle upon the page.
Your eye enjoys it in a ratio of eight to five.
Let’s say you’re an urgent man in an urgent language
construing the millions of shadows that keep you alive.
If only it were water or innocent or a hawk from a handsaw,
if only you were Adonis or Marcel Duchamp
settling in to your half hour of sex or chess, not this raw
block cut out of the fog of meaning, still damp. But no,

you are alone. Whatever idea here rises from its knees
to turn and face you quicker than a kiss
or a hyphen or the very first moment you felt the breeze
of being a creature who will die – one day, not this –
will ask of you most of your cunning and a deep blue release like a sigh
while using only two pronouns, ‘I’ and ‘not-I’.