Reviewed by Emma Bolden
Tulips, Water, Ash
By Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet
Perfect Bound, 88 pages
Link to purchase
Yesterday you met me at the train. Next year
is a leap year. All our present
spent elsewhere, a mirror held over the shoulder
and a smaller one, fogged, close to the eye.
you’d once do anything for:
to be made
nothing again, perfect
can swim in and through,
tail flicking, down into the earth
of her own flesh, becoming in her descent
a cell, an electron, small thing spinning
in a great void.
[…] Nightswe tried for momentum, some catapult
of desire that could lift us out of one life
and into the next […][…] Plotted escape from something
not so bad, that is, intolerable.
who must in some sense become other than their self. “We’re used / by sweetness—” suggests a solution in blankness, a moment when the self is not so concerned with the self and transcends the limits of daily, earthly life:
Use me then, take me
humming and buzzing
[…] that one
moment of sweet forgiving
nothing-elseness. That thing
we’re made for.
—everything now is farther but gets there
faster: light in the wires, your hand
as it lifts toward your face, more distant
by an atom than the day before.
The cosmologist says, We hope that we don’t have to resort to this solution.The cheat, the lie, the truth: Orion, for example, is there
because you are there to see it.But it is one way out.
You are there, and how long
you have not been there, how long it has been leading
up to this (mismatched and
unreal though it is, though it
will be still)— Open your view.
Open. Flooding in like stars,
everything, with its hands and its eyes.
Vitreous humor, spleen, all thumbs and your hand
spirals down toward completion, stripped-downtelegraph times two carrying the news of the dayand all is catch and fall, rise and carry —
We are our perceptions, and we are our memories, and thus we are also our inconstant existences, our routines and our routine miseries; we are “all the buckets, dug out / by their contents, made / of their burdens.” Therefore, it is through our tragedies and our inconsistencies – both small and large, common and grand – that we find possibility, that we gain the ability to reflect back, be illuminated, shine, as in “Alluvial:” “Here, now: the compound, the rough. Something mars / the surface, lets itself in.” The important thing, recognized both by the poets and scientists, is that one changes by letting this illumination into one’s life, as in “Light as the Only Constant in the Universe:”
What is illuminated is what
is reflective, even
a little bit—roughed-up
enough to grab onto, sendsomething back.
Emma Bolden’s chapbooks include How to Recognize a Lady (part of Edge by Edge, Toadlily Press), The Mariner’s Wife (Finishing Line Press), and The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press). She was a semi-finalist for the Perugia Press Book Prize and a finalist for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Prize and for a Ruth Lily Fellowship. She teaches at Georgetown College and is poetry editor of Georgetown Review.