New Rule Themes

Themes

Relationships
Although it is not totally clear until more than halfway through the poem, the poet is coming to terms with a relationship that has ended badly. Her boyfriend or husband has left her “in our fifth year,” but it is clear that she still has feelings for him, since she refers to him as “my true love.” One assumes that, since the female poet refers to a “night of hooks,” she is painfully alone. She is also re- living the death of her relationship, as the dying electric razor, or “man blade” signifies. The poem becomes a process by which the poet confronts her feelings about her lost love and her loneliness: “Do you fear the same things as / I fear?”; works through these emotions—the “peg of tears” at the end of the poem depicts the poet’s final tears shed for her lost love; and moves on with her life: “The way to hold on is / afterwords / so / clear.” To the poet at the end of the poem, the answer to her loneliness and despair is now as clear as the ice on the tree.

Seeking Guidance from Nature
This revelation does not come from the poet alone. She first begins thinking about the “hard” quality of her breakup when she notices the “hard new ice” outside. Already, nature is providing the setting within which the poet will confront her past. Nature’s role increases with the introduction of the squirrel, which becomes the poet’s guide for working through her past. As the squirrel makes its way precariously down the tree, “clutching his branch,” the poet sees in the squirrel’s...

(The entire section is 641 words.)