Keeping Things Whole

Although itís not a lengthy poem, the few words and their layout in "Keeping

Things Whole" certainly possess great significance. This poem is centered on
the idea that the narratorís life is lacking purpose. In exploring the meaning
of his existence, he determined that his reason for living was to keep moving so
that peopleís lives were only temporarily interrupted. Strandís technique of
splitting up his sentences helps emphasize certain phrases and ideas. When I
read poetry I naturally pause for a brief second at the end of each line to
allow the words to sink in, therefore taking an extra moment to realize what the
author is saying. With each line in this poem only a few words long, there is a
higher pause-to-word ratio, which allows for more thought for each idea the
first time you read through it. Strand splits up the sentences in places where
he is trying to convey more meaning, with the hope that the reader will pause
and contemplate what was just read. His stanzas are concluded when he wants more
attention placed on his current idea. The narratorís viewpoint towards life in
this poem is quite different from how most people see it. Where he writes, "In
a field / I am the absence / of field." (ll. 1-3) instead of acknowledging his
existence as something, he regards it as a lack of something. This negativity
towards himself is what the entire poem is focused on. He uses the idea that
when his body enters an area the parts of that area are momentarily interrupted
and are forced around him, just waiting to return back to normal once he leaves:

"When I walk / I part the air / and always / the air moves in / to fill the
spaces / where my bodyís been." (ll. 8-13) The "air" in that line
symbolizes the existence of other people around him, and the narrator sees
himself as a nuisance to those people, always being in the way. He is saying
that whenever he enters into a location with a bunch of people, those people see
him as a bother and simply as something that they must put up with for a little
while. They canít wait for the narrator to leave so that they donít have to
put up with him anymore and can therefore return to what they were doing. The
last stanza explains the narratorís reason for "moving," or in other words
living: "I move / to keep things whole." (ll. 16 & 17) He understands
that he must keep moving and going on with his life even though he is
interrupting the existence and paths of others. When I read those last two lines

I felt a sense of saddened acceptance of life in the narratorís speech. Since
he concluded that his existence was unnecessary and bothersome, the only way he
can continue in his monotonous life is by continually moving around, so that he
disturbs everyoneís lives equally and doesnít become too much of a bother in
one place. With that mindset, the narrator believes that his absence is what
keeps things whole.