An Introduction to Mary-Kim Arnold by Wendy Chen

In the following excerpts from Mary-Kim Arnold’s poem “Soon,” fragmentary scenes deftly move between self-possessed desire, anxiety, and humor, documenting the speaker’s inevitable approach toward menopause with nuance and precision. In one scene, the speaker reads erotica in bed. In another, the speaker parties at a mansion in Newport. After a missed sexual encounter, the speaker poignantly confesses to a friend an inability to sleep “for all this wanting.”

The title, “Soon,” encapsulates these arresting, erotic tensions embedded within each line. The speaker chases—is chased in return—but left only wanting more. The poem’s full embrace of the desire to want and to chase, as well as the desire in the wanting and the chasing, is, ultimately, an embrace of life. The lack of resolution, accentuated by the sense of a continuous, never-ending approach is a subversive, empowering take on menopause, aging, and death.