In stories as well as poems the title and first few lines have extra significance for the reader. Even this early on, readers expect to know the genre and form of the text, the time and place, the personality and gender of the narrator. They may well make arbitrary assumptions if evidence is lacking. Experienced readers are more likely to treat these assumptions as working hypotheses that can be overturned. Writers may seek to control these first impressions to their advantage, setting an ambush. This is common in "twist in the tail" pieces but anything stranger can produce problems. A poem of mine suffered from such a misreading. Its title "Love at First Sight" makes people think of romantic attraction - the typical Love Poem. The first few lines do little to dispel this notion
You look down. She's looking at you.
You look away. You look again.
She's still looking. Don't stare
because she's beautiful but because
you're lost in thought. Every moment counts.
However, when readers reach the following lines a little later
Stare, and the incubator dials will start moving.
The pen beside the form will spin on the table.
people are often baffled. Some didn't like the use of maternity ward imagery in a love scene. Others see these lines as a shift of time and place, with too many years having been skipped. Yet others, already alerted by the heavy-handed title, have kept their options open and are ready to amend their first hypothesis to increase coherence and satisfaction by setting the whole poem in the ward. My aim was to lull the reader then let them share some of the shock that the new parents experienced when the birth didn't go as expected, but I failed to reckon with reader intransigence. The ending isn't enough to shake some from their original belief
as if only fairytale princesses lie under glass
like this, disqualified from pain;
missing, presumed immortal.
Even in this age of consumerism I don't think the poetry reader is always right.