Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wait by Alison Stine

“I am a bird
in the field and I want you to find me.
I want you to find me. Tell me wait.”

The University of Wisconsin Press, 2011. Whenever I get to that point where I just want to line up my poems and punch them in the face, I turn to Ali Stine. Maybe it’s because she’s a friend of mine, she’s from where I’m from, or the fact that we both enjoy a good Neko Case song and a pint of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, but there’s something about her writing that always nudges me along when I’d rather throw a temper tantrum.

Her first book, Ohio Violence (2008 Winner, Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry) is a heart-stopping, grisly Midwestern sweep, but I have to admit that this second collection, Wait (2011 Brittingham Prize in Poetry) is really where it’s at. The narrator in Wait announces herself as anything but a damsel in distress; she rides motorbikes, gossips, meets boys, runs away in fields. Her waiting is never an angelic prayer of patience but rather a restless urgency that grips us from the first poem to last. In “Rabbit of the World” she pleads: “Imagine what it is like for me/ to want you, to wait. Harbinger, rabbit/ of the world, red eye flashing as if to warn:/ the power that is coming will make no sound,” and in “Canary,” when the waiting seems endless: “My canary shutters against the man I thought/ I knew, the one who promised to love me./ What I want is a stranger’s arms. What/ I want is no story[…] Before he knows my name,/ no history, no apology, when I can trust/ him, when my body blows up in his mouth.”

Wait, like this stranger, makes no apologies. It is a book that I will return to again and again to remind myself, oh yeah, this is why poetry is important: when we don’t have any other choice but to write when there is nothing else to say.

No comments:

Post a Comment