Wednesday, March 23, 2022

"We were just": The fragmentation of a phrase in Mary Jean Chan's "the five stages"

In "bargaining", the third section of Mary Jean Chan's poem "the five stages", the speaker and her roommate "curl into one another", apparently for the first time, but are interrupted by their flatmates, so her roommate calls through the door: "hey, // what’s up? we were just // watching a film". The breaking up of phrases with slashes is in the original layout; "we were just" is separated from the roommate's invention, which replaces the potential truth of "we were just snuggling" or perhaps something more. But the phrase "we were just", by itself, transforms "just" from an adverb into an adjective that legitimizes the relationship between the two young women. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 March 2022)

The complete poem "the five stages" is available here in English as well as in an Italian translation.

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