Sunday, June 02, 2013

Jen Currin, The Ends


You tell me she was shaved
& the saints don’t mind.

This is another poem about a wall.
Ambiguous as well-water,

your notes on dusk &
flexible speculations.

Pretty as theory. Like you
I’m soaking it up.

Repeat after me:
I am my biography.
I am.

The anger burns out &
alone on a beach
you’re never naked enough.

Your parents met in college,
divorced in the woods.

When all the theaters were closed—
When all the girls casual—

Who is close enough
to talk like this—

Who drowned, & who wanted

Vancouver poet Jen Currin’s latest work, The Ends (Vancouver BC: Nomados, 2013), is a chapbook structured in two sections that explores grief and the aftermath of loss, writing of “Who drowned, & who wanted / to.” and “Afternoon hurts—I can’t stop.” Her short lyric poems are entirely physical, pushing up and against pain from a core of confessional (at least, from the narrator’s perspective) as blunt force, punching and tearing  through the complicated emotions of grief. The rawness of the poems in the first section are underscored, also, by the numbness that emerges in the second section, as though the line between the two sections, however artificially drawn, is a line required for the sake of crossing, to attempt to leave the worst behind. The author of the trade collections The Sleep of Four Cities (Vancouver BC: Anvil, 2005), Hagiography (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2008) and The Inquisition Yours (Coach House Books, 2010), The Ends weaves through perception, memory and forgetting, composed not necessarily as conclusion but the frayed ends of something torn away. “For forgetfulness we will. / We will be difficult. / As pity shrinks with thinking.” she writes, in “Capable.” Further on, in the poem “Sugar for Schoolchildren,” she writes “Water drinks water // and we refuse to listen.” In the end, The Ends are what one needs to go through, if one wishes to emerge through to the other side.

On Peace Street

It started snowing. I wanted to pour us glasses of wine and go out into the snow, to feel it melt on our faces. The first snow of the year. I told you I didn’t think the military should exist and kissed you. You said you couldn’t think of anyone but him. The snow was wet; it slipped off windshields and slushed the stairs. A city of bolted kale glowed whitely in the front yard. The black cats from upstairs slipped past our legs. The moon was falling slowly. You looked away and I lifted my glass.

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