|Review by Karen George|
by Katherine Larson
Yale University Press (2011)
suction cups like planets in rows...
I stole one from the formaldehyde
and watched it bloom in my bathroom sink
between the cubes of ice.
even as it falls apart
her hair and arms all
Larson chooses her words carefully. In the above lines, simple words convey a palpable feeling of reverence and awe, and a heightened awareness of all the senses that appears again and again in Larson's work. In the poem, "A Lime Tree for San Cristobal," which is placed in the Galapagos, she says:
sting of citrus delivers perfume in a halo
...pink gills embroidered
blood, the eyes–two mirrors snapped over
with iron. This shark that I will cut and soak
in lime has a mouth made for eating darkness–
an architecture built without a need for dawn.
The above lines bring me to another unifying element of this book–the repeated motif of pairing opposites, in this case life and death, eating and being eaten, beauty and violence. We see this again in the poem, "Low Tide Evening," where a man is eating mussels:
through them they eat
and eat at it, content to connect
the individual links
of their purple bodies.
between the days I pass through
and the days that pass
is the mind. And memory
which outruns the body and
grief which arrests it.
would be caught by the threads
that days were held together by singing.
long after they had gone.
Then she speaks of her grief over the loss of her grandfather, and the ghost of John the Baptist, whose ankle bone she saw in the sacristy:
Maybe tonight he'll bless me.
give. Something like snow falling
arms of a hospital bed.
at the light as if the world was full of
tiny traps, each hairpin mechanism
tripped for transformation. Such a ricochet
of appetites insisting life, life, life against
the watery dark, the tuberous reeds. Tell me –
how do they survive passage? …
blur, pure erasure...
...and the stench
of the rotting sea lion carcass with the plastic Coke bottle
lodged inside its throat...
Amidst these disturbing images are passages of intense beauty:
The brain humming its electric language...