Chapter 7: Cruelty, or Readers Like Pleasure But They Adore Pain

Poetry always helps. I got that from a friend whose adult daughter was grieving the death of a beloved pet, and the friend said her daughter replied, “Poetry always helps.” I think that’s true . . . Think about the last time you wrestled with a swimsuit or a pair of pajama bottoms or some other article of clothing that has a drawstring and you had to grapple with a knot, teasing it out with your nails until the hard center dissolved and you could separate it into two strands. No poem by someone else speaks directly to your moment, but when your mind’s in a knot, a well-turned piece of writing can untangle that knot, and then you can retie the strings in a new way or just let them dangle, if you like. The materials that made the knot haven’t changed, but you can deal with them now.