Poetry: Self-Portrait as Verbal Reasoning Test

In O Leary’s inventive self-portrait, the pathways of memory splinter themselves into a series of analogies as both a coping mechanism and as a means for its readers to see the poem’s events from various vantage points. A daughter’s fraught relationship with a father becomes “transparent, as cornea of eye”. Grief becomes “to efface, as night fallen across sundial”. Childhood becomes a “speckled koi frozen in circle of ice”. O’Leary skillful decisions throughout this poem allow readers a double-jointedness.



Self-Portrait as Verbal Reasoning Test

Directions: Analogies test your ability to define relationships between             . Choose the best             from the              provided.

  1. family : nuclear :: daughter :           __
    a.    transparent, as cornea of eye
    b.    dormant, as garlic bulbs in winter
    c.    haunted, as clipped wing of bird
    d.    serrated, as coastal wind over water

++2. arterial line : topography ::           __: memory
++++a. stem of glass
++++b. silhouette of hand
++++c. redness of morning
++++d. constriction of throat

++3. to grieve : to remember ::            __ : to father
++++a. to break, as eye contact at kitchen table
++++b. to trap, as flame within unlit wick
++++c. to efface, as night fallen across sundial
++++d. to name, as pit anchored in stomach

++4. childhood :           __:: sleep paralysis : vision
++++a. hushed voices siphoned in stairwell
++++b. speckled koi frozen in circle of ice
++++c. phone clicked shut before first breath
++++d. thoracic cage collided with storm door

++5.            __: to absolve :: congenital silence : to speak
++++a. wreath of frost alighted on locked window
++++b. twelve diaries stolen from bedroom closet
++++c. stacked boxes struck by column of sunlight
++++d. shredded portrait reassembled without faces

++6. adult :            __:: child :
++++a. scythe+++++a. seed
++++b. precipice+++b. flight
++++c. capsule++++c. antidote
++++d. aperture+++d. wound

Mollie O Leary

Mollie O'Leary is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Poetry Online, DIALOGIST, and So To Speak. She reads for GASHER Journal. Mollie has called Massachusetts, Ohio, and Texas home.

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