Guest Post by David Ruekberg.
In Paddock images circulate like wavelets confronting an embankment, reshaping constructions we thought of as solid. There are two girls, or two sides of one girl. An omniscient but distant chorus. A mother, both dead and alive: a ghost but not a zombie.
Parts One and Two establish a gauzy mythological base. Part Three offers some realism in “Night Swimming,” narrating an assault on the subject and the surreal loss of her companion “to the furious oscillation of the bedroom fan” before resuming the detached voices of the girls born from this sundered identity. The question, “How many have there been?” is answered by, “One. / Many. / None.”
Their limbo is relieved in a moment of equanimity when Girl 2 instructs a nameless subject, “Open your eyes. / The sunlight is a lucid stain / One morning we met.” Though the image connotes the fallen world, there is a sense of acceptance, or perhaps resignation: “There is nothing to be undone,” echoing Godot’s “nothing to be done.” One wonders which is worse.
The repartee has more logic and less mania than Godot. While Paddock shares its impoverished tone and landscapes, the allusion is unsteady; the notes attribute “Let us go then” to Godot not Prufrock. Other editorial errors occasionally intrude, perhaps attributable to small-press limitations.
Another element assuages their dilemma: a goat (linked to Amalthea, Zeus’s foster-mother), tended in a paddock; hence, the title. Thus, the work itself becomes a shelter, an attempt to form a body in which trauma might be understood. Yet Buschi’s lyricism shows how fragile that attempt is, suggesting a psychological displacement that is universal and contemporary: the modern challenge to identity, where elements of meaning—coherence, identity, belonging—are tenuous at best.
Paddock by Mary Lou Buschi. Lily Poetry Review Books,
Reviewer bio: David Ruekberg (MFA: Warren Wilson) is a poet, teacher, climate activist, and occasional cartoonist in Rochester, NY. He has enjoyed a residency at Jentel Arts, and poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Lake Effect, Mudfish, North American Review, and elsewhere. His two collections of poetry are Where Is the River Called Pishon? (Kelsay Books, 2018) and Hour of the Green Light (FutureCycle Press, 2021). Read more at http://poetry.ruekberg.com.