This edition of inscape finds loss of every sort within its pages. Each piece is different, naturally, but the element of emptiness seems to touch each poem, each story, in this journal. The first I’ll give a glimpse of is Brian Brown’s “History of Time”:
while you stare blankly at the Folio Shakespeare
you’ll never read, vacuous to a fault.
Cigarettes and their condiments of drink and sex
are the bad chi in your library of loss.
Yet there are volumes you’ve set to memory,
thin and lyrical histories of the wiregrass,
[. . .]
Books such as this you’ve read your whole life, heard
in the crackle of longleaf pine against the dawn,
but you never liked the way they ended.
So here begins your autobiography.
Brown’s piece, here, is about the loss of history, inherent in our failure to read and understand what has come before us.
Brown has another beautifully written poem, this one, perhaps, about the loss of faith, but with it, an acknowledgement of the need that’s inhabited faith’s empty space. “Theory of Relativity,” a scientific phrase, to be sure, nonetheless becomes the lynchpin for this piece on faith. Offers Brown, “We try to hold every epiphany / but always come up short. // [. . .] Waiting for God / isn’t something we do, / but rather / the energy of everything.”
John Boucher’s nonfiction piece, “Speaking in Tongues,” is a heartbreaking rendition of the loss of his life-partner and lover, Rex. Reading this, I was brought nearly to tears. Pouring out his soul, the author writes, “When Rex got off the phone, he found me waiting on our couch. The couch we picked out. / The couch we made love on / the couch we watched TV on / the couch we read to each other on / [. . .] the couch we almost broke-up on / the couch I would wait with my parents to go to his funeral. The couch I finally had to throw out.” Further in Rex’s story, Boucher has asked Rex’s estranged mother if she’d like something of Rex’s. Rex’s sister, Ruth, leaves a message on John’s answering machine with Rex’s mom’s request: “She said what she’d really like is a picture – of you both. She said when you spoke to her at that restaurant it was just like talkin’ to married people.” When Boucher explains that he sent the last picture that was saved on Rex’s camera – of the two of them at John’s father’s birthday – it is a palpable loss that the reader feels. It is as if Boucher’s loss belongs to each and every one.
I was particularly touched, in this atmosphere, and at this time in which we live, by Zachary Kluckman’s “Dog-Tags and Butterflies” poem:
In the silence there is nothing.
A void of sound like the failure of emotion to capture
the moment when a flag falls over a soldier,
and the ground swallows both.
When the gunfire ceases suddenly
the ground echoes with the sound for minutes afterward.
The thunder of fire swallowed by the sand;
a pulse you can feel with your hand.
A storm you can play in your head like a song.
Press your ear to the ground and you can still hear the dead.
The loss that permeates this edition of inscape should not dissuade the reader from picking up a copy, rather it should be the very reason that one does.