Whats the personalities of the two individuals in this poem ?  The speaker and the subject ? the conflict between them and how they react to each other ? ---------------------------- there are...

Whats the personalities of the two individuals in this poem ?


The speaker and the subject ? the conflict between them and how they react to each other ?


there are many lines you have not traced on my palms still

you think you know me , when i speak you nod knowingly as if 
you've read my mind and are only politely acknowledging the confirmation of my spoken words

but you cannot possibly know what i've been contemplating these days
my head is full of blood but you show no fear and i do not trust my hands which feel to me like stones

you do not cower when i approach though i am like a runaway train
and i can hear you voice cool and steady while my brain screams profanities into the air around your ears , our past had given you no reason to be afraid but still i am surprised you cannot see
the danger burning brightly in my eyes 
the fire i am struggling to control 

as i sit stewing in the kitchen's false light with tears my daughter comes to me frightened by what she cannot see afraid tonight to sleep 

i hold her in my arms singing soft words of comfort feeling her heart quickly beating against my chest knowing before i can think that i have forgotten us for our stupid little war

knowing in the incandescent light that anger will never move me as delicately as she has moved me this night




Expert Answers
englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am certain that, like most poetry, this one is open to multiple analyses, but this is my take on it:

There are two characters in the poem (three, if you count the daughter).  Most likely, the other two characters, the speaker and the subject, are married.  The speaker is extremely angry with the subject, and is actually thinking violent thoughts about the other person.  These violent thoughts, however, are relatively new, because the speaker reminds the subject that their past has given him/her no reason to suspect such thoughts.  The speaker sits at the kitchen table thinking about the present situation when his/her daughter comes to him/her and cannot sleep.  After comforting her, the speaker has calmed down and has forgotten about the fight, noting that no amount of anger and resentment could ever touch him/her as deeply as the little daughter has.

The subject thinks he/she knows the speaker because obviously they've known each other a long time and have been in an intimate relationship together (if we read the poem as a fight between mates).  The way in which the subject doesn't even seem to listen to what the speaker is saying infuriates the speaker.  The subject assumes, because he/she has known the speaker so well for so long, that he/she knows how the speaker feels and what he/she is saying.  Perhaps this dismissive nature of the subject is the reason why the speaker is so angry in the first place.

The speaker is obviously very passionate about whatever is going on, and is driven almost mad with anger and frustration.  The subject seems almost static and unchanging, and a bit cold towards the speaker's needs. 

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My take is similar but more like two oppositional forces anger/resignation, impulse/passivity, or direct aggression/passive aggression. It looks as if,despite the natural love that exists between parent and child - the parent knows the child very well and has learned to deal with its anger through passivity in the past. The child has become over-sensitized to this from its past experiences and becomes infuriated easily like people do when the other half refuses to 'fight' or argue back. The child sees this as a refusal to engage with its needs and feels the anger building to crisis pitch and cannot understand why the parent cannot see the threat and be afraid. The child has power but the parent knows and loves the child better than it does itself and that the moment will pass. The situation is resolved when the child's anger melts away in its mother's arms. I felt more for the child in this poem than the parent - i hope it got listened to!

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I read the poem, I see conflict between a parent (could be mother or father) and child. The parent is consumed with anger yet appears to be holding it in, not fully expressing feelings to the child. Yet despite the parent's lack of communication with the child, the child still seems to detect that something is wrong and wants to seek comfort and reassurance. It's tough to sum this up as "personalities" because the personalities would have to be based on this one small glimpse into their lives. But based solely on the poem it would seem that the parent is not a great communicator and the child is not a good listener. Yet they are both loving and compassionate toward one another. It could be read as a poem describing conflict between any average parent and teen.