Friday, November 25, 2011

The Woman Who Eats Soil ---Jen G.

I've noticed I tend to go a little too in-depth in my posts, so I'll try to keep this one short. I was scrolling through the Green edition of The Fairy Tale Review when I came across the unusually-named poem, "The Woman Who Eats Soil" by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. It begins with the melancholy lines "What can the unfortunate insect do/if it is found wanting in weight?" (115) and follows the brief story of a woman named Hao Fenglas who, for the past seventy years, has been eating soil in secret. In all honestly, I have no idea what to make of this poem. Hao continues on with normal life, waving to kids as they walk to school, all while she eats soil. The poem ends with the lines "[the bugs] have an idea on how to grow bigger, too big/ for this purse. But it is forgotten with each bite" (115); I feel like there is some clue here, but I cannot for the life of me figure it out. Maybe I'm missing the big picture? Any suggestions/interpretations are welcome!

---Jen G.


Popped said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Popped said...

Wow...yeah, that sounds confusing. You're doing fairy tale review, right? I'm guessing that means they don't let you know which fairy tale is being reworked. Did you do a quick search on the topic?

I do know that a lot of folklore involves traditions of eating, but off the top of my head it seems like the person normally doing the eating is, shall we say, not nice. That would make sense if the woman is being related to a bug, something nasty that would have made a good creepy villain in a story. The only thing I can think of with the soil is that a lot of creation myths involve female figures and soil, but I've never heard of them eating it. Building continents out of it, making people out of it, yes, but eating it?

Maybe the writer tried it out and accidentally swallowed a mushroom...

--Sarah Lawrence

Popped said...

I'm going to start out by saying that I have no idea what this poem about eating soil might mean, especially without having read it in its entirety.
It is weird to me that the lines you quoted are all about bugs and insects and the poem is supposedly about a woman. Is the woman like a bug? Does she do other buggy things besides eating soil?
The line you quoted suggests that eating soil is a way to gain wait when you need it. Does Hao gain weight? Was that her goal in eating the soil? Why does she do it in private?

Wow that's a lot of questions. Sorry. I guess this description just makes me wonder all these things about this woman. Maybe I should read the poem.