And then the dream was
across a black-and-gold screen. It warned
not to look out a the veiled air, not
to recall the room
where she slept as a bear
came down the long dark hall.
This occurred in the retelling,
under the present image:
a smiling woman clutching her scarf
in front of blue mountains
and scant drifting clouds. It seemed
something had happened to give her joy.
In the dream, she was neither pardoned
nor included, trudging along the path,
dragging the pelt, as the young Icelandic man
pounded away at the partita, his fingers
routing the keys, hair agitated in wind.
As she reached the crest of the hill
she lay down on the stone cap
and began to hum, to tally the day
into the vertigo of the night’s cold vengeance.
The latest from American poet and essayist Ann Lauterbach, following ten previous collections of poetry and three books of essays, is the poetry collection Door (Penguin, 2023). Hers is a name I’ve heard for some time, although this is the first collection I’ve seen. There is something of the clarity and the tone across these poems that echoe, slightly, that of the work of American poet Caroline Knox, although each poet works with an entirely different kind of sharpness across their narrative lyrics. “So blind to consequence,” Lauterbach writes, as part of the poem “SYNTAX,” “wondering / what the difference is between care and trust.” Lauterbach writes syntax, gardens, dunes, apparitions, horizons and ethos, all through the framing of that particular image of the door, and there are ways through which her narratives float into the surreal, simultaneously anchored and seemingly-untethered, riding a fine line of possibility amid a shifting of perception. “The long rain of men keeps raining.” she offers, as part of “THE MINES (MAGRITTE),” “Have they looked down? Have you?” A few lines further on, writing:
The north wind, you were
blisters on your heels? You
ran too far in the moonlight
under the sign of Magritte
and the petty grievances of small
river towns. The trees blacken,
high hills ram a backlit sky, bottles
fill with cloud, the same clouds
the big bird sets alight, the big eye
British Columbia poet Fred Wah’s own is a door (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2009) [see my review of such here], both of which echo, perhaps, a particular translation of Rumi, that reads: “A wound is a door through which the light comes in.” Indeed.