Monday, April 12, 2010

Sandra Doller, Chora

Like i’m about to get on
a really long train

the train that i’m talking about
go open
through oakland

a train over the ocean
i don’t mean a lake
a train over the sea (“Like I’m About to Get On”)

Composed on a train is Sandra Doller’s Chora (2010), her second trade collection, and first with her new name, since publishing her maiden-named Oriflamme (Ahsahta, 2005). Point by point and clack by clack, these pieces extend themselves across a singular line of track, furthering, as some points have little to do with others, simply another point on the line. Wasn’t it bpNichol who wrote, sometimes the poems connect, even if only composed by the same hand? Chora is a poem on landscapes, of watching; as she writes in her Author’s Statement:
Chora is a locomotive text. It was conceived on a train. A 50-plus hour train trip from Iowa to Oakland. And back. Over 100 hours on a train. Plus an 8-hour delay at Donner’s Pass, with a less cannibalist outcome. I was en route to a wedding. And back. I missed my man. I read books. I filled three notebooks with scribbling. A year later, after my own wedding, I re-opened them. And Chora came out moving, locomoting, pulling.

The poem opens a door, and the poet writes on through, writing “what great open door through / the ocean spat strands of this” (p 77), writing “i’ll talk to you / tomorrow / when she opens / a door” (p 48). A poem that points towards openings, and fragments its unbroken line, unbroken poem, down that long length of track, and subsequent purpose, writing how “narrative bruise repeats people” (p 30) or “be sure / where does this take us.” (p 57). A good question: where does this take us? Not the destination that matters (that can be for a subsequent volume) but the journey, itself. Or the last part of the poem “Please Review.” that writes:

the phone in me says
with tambour hair

here is a case
for you

may you simple
under microscope cope

could you get to me

red gross hills
children rack

is from a can
one tin

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