Are you in love or are you in love with the experience of love? That is the question I had throughout the entirety of this anthology. Lullabies takes the reader through a journey of love, more specifically the experience of love. Leav’s poems allows you to feel the peaks and valleys of love and every bit of emotion in between. The kind of love expressed in these poems seem almost obsessive. They are focused on the woes of the speakers and not the lovers. It is a one-sided experience. Although she attempts to capture the emotions of the lovers in the poems, they are very few. The only acknowledgements are few spoken words that were supposedly said. However, even said in the poem False Hope, the speaker’s heart had “selective hearing,” only hearing the positive sides of what was said. So who is to believe that what was heard was truly said? Many of my side notes in the poems say things like “overdramatic, unrealistic” or “she’s doing too much” because of the infatuation she seems to have with the feeling of love. Perhaps the speaker is so deeply involved with the experience of love because she had never truly received it in the way that she gives. In The Very Thing, Lang writes “I often wonder why we want so much, to give to others the very thing that we were denied.” This brings me back to the one-sided experience. Having a one-sided love experience with someone cannot truly sprout love, only obsession. If one party is not participating, the other who claims to love and be in love is only relying on their imagination and their desires, not reality
The slight obsession I noticed in the poem is just that, slight. The intense love the speaker has for this person makes it difficult to decipher between the moments of pure emotion and obsession. There are poems where the speaker talks of never loving another in the same way and holding on to the feeling of loving that person even though the relationship is over. In those moments I cannot help but ask “Is it really that deep?” Is the love you have for this person so consuming, so intoxicating, and so addictive that you feel you can never love another and you can never let go? That is a scary feeling to love so much and so hard.
In the first chapter of the book I felt like a teenage girl scribbling hearts over my notebook with the name of my latest crush in the middle. With lines like “So much at times / I wish to die, / so I can end this / on a high.”, the love expressed at this stage appears very immature. It lacks the reality of possibilities. Given certain circumstances anything can happen, especially considering we do not truly know the heart of her lover. Throughout the first chapter I can’t help but picture a seventeen year old girl crying and screaming “But mom I love him!” The second chapter seemed to be the beginning of the end of the relationship.
The speaker seemed a little more mature and realistic but still very much into the experience. By the third chapter I got the feeling that the speaker was now well aware of the realities of life and love. Her hurt was apparent and although the person her love was intended for was gone, she was still holding on to the memories and experiences she’d had. Similar to calling a dead loved one’s phone number knowing they won’t answer but still being soothed by the sound of their voice on the answering machine.
The structures of Leav’s poems were sporadic. One would expect a flow of the pieces coming together in a greater form. While the emotional river flowed consistently and continuously, the structure of the poems as a whole was like an uncut diamond, rough and unclear. They variety of poem structure does show Leav’s flexibility in the art and her ability to challenge herself and tackle different layouts of expression. The poems that mimicked paragraphs in structure draws the reader into the story of love being told.
This anthology overall was a pleasurable experience. The words and desires placed upon the speaker provided a way for the reader to join them on a journey through the experience of love. The experience causes for the reader to recall their own experience of love and, if they have never been, allows them to imagine what it might be like to be that much in love with someone and feel the way the speaker is feeling. Some pieces were not relatable for myself personally because I could not understand how a person could give so much of their heart and love to another being that isn’t their child. However, because of the vividness of the emotions I was able to imagine. To love love, love being in love, and love loving someone else is not an experience often explored because many often mistake those things for truly being in love. Lang Leav truly captured that feeling and its slightly obsessive qualities that hide behind the pure emotion. At the beginning of the book I felt hopeful, happy, and optimistic of what the love being experienced would bring. At the end of the book I felt lonely, as if I had given all of my love away to someone and that someone had left and was dragging everything I had given with them in a garbage bag.