Monday, April 28, 2014

"Spackler's Lament"

I’ve been reading “Spackler’s Lament” from Karen Skolfield’s PEN recognized collection, Frost in the Low Areas and wondering just how inventory becomes litany. Getting from list to poem takes magic. It’s not enough to walk about noticing the landmarks and goings-on “All over the city.” Lesser poets have tried, I suspect with copies of Lunch Poems in tow and well annotated with stars and exclamation points, and they’ve noticed sufficient detail. Skolfield, however, deftly notices only those details that share poetry’s center, those that can somehow be  simultaneously here and not here: “rounded edges where hard corners should reign,” “the emptiness formed by a squirrel’s tail / touching its back,” “the space between bars at zoos and jails.” Each detail is replaced by another, which is kind of the point. Each new fascination dances with its own absence. Languages, “Spanish or Catalan,” are both here and there, beautiful but transitional. In the end, for all of our skill with words and native knowledge, we cradle only the shell, “the speckled idea of the bird.”

                             - GFA


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