Meditation at Lagunitas
by Robert Hass
Section V (lines 26-31) Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
- It sounds like he’s still on clean-up duty for his comment about the woman. Now, he says that she isn’t just some object to him – a random hook-up, if you will.
- He actually knows the woman pretty well. He seems to eat dinner with her often enough to know how she breaks apart or "dismantles" bread. He also knows about her relationship with her father and her dreams.
- In other words, they aren’t strangers. They have a meaningful relationship.
- The speaker is kind of amazed that, despite all this stuff that he knows about her, he still is most attracted to the way she reminds him of his childhood. This seems strange to him, just as it probably seems strange to us.
There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
- Here, he ties it all together, and the result is – perhaps appropriately – very mysterious. There are moments, he says, when the body seems as "numinous," or divine, as words.
- By "numinous," he talks again about Plato’s "luminous clarity" of ideas. So, there are moments when the body seems like a perfect idea.
- As for "days that are the good flesh continuing," this is probably the most mysterious line in the poem. He seems to mean that there are days when we feel a pleasant satisfaction, like when desire is achieved through contact with "flesh."
- He’s not just talking about sex – although that’s certainly part of it. These days are happy and "tender," like being in the arms of a loved one. They are, in short, a whole lot better than arguing about philosophy.
- Then, in the last line, he seems to say that these days are spent saying the word "blackberry" over and over again. We imagine this would probably get pretty boring after, oh, two minutes. So, we’re guessing that it’s a metaphor.
- The first time that you say a word like "blackberry," it seems totally normal – you’re talking about a sweet, tasty fruit. But, when you repeat it a couple more times, the word itself starts to seem like a thing.
- Forgetting all about the fruit, the sound of the word itself is "sweet." The repetition of "blackberry" is a metaphor for the way ideas and things seem to blend together to produce a feeling of "tenderness." Bodies become "as numinous as words," and words, like "blackberry," become as tender as bodies.
- Now, if you excuse us, we have to rush to the store to buy a carton of fruit. For some reason, we can’t stop thinking about berries.