I erase a dog named Arf;
I erase four cowboys in bolas and yet in
the diminishing bustle of these streets I
nevertheless keep meeting People-I-Know.
I erase them.
Later, she “wind(s) rivers back on their spools, . . . unplug(s)/the bee from the socket of the honeysuckle” until the page is “as bare and smooth as a bowling alley.” However, it is lush imagery that makes Emanuel a pleasure to read, such as "the janitor pushes the big mustache of his broom across the floor" (from “Halfway Through the Book I’m Writing”) & "the voice of the dead man limping/down the long dark corridor of my throat" (from “Persona”).
When this book was first published in 1999, I really liked it. I still do.
There are times in Carolyn Forche's The Country Between in which the writing is lucid as in:
Tell them how his friends found
the soldiers and made them dig him up
and ask forgiveness of the corpse, once
it was assembled again on the ground
like a man. As for the cars, of course
they watch you and for this don’t flatter
yourself. We are all watched. We are
all assembled. (“Return”)
However, there is also this rambling sentence from “Ourselves or Nothing”:
I have come from our cacophonous
ordinary lives where I stood at the sink
last summer scrubbing mud from potatoes
and listening to the supper fish
in the skillet, my eyes on the narrowed
streets of rain through the window
as I thought of the long war
that misted country turned to the moon’s surface,
grey and ring-wormed with ridges of light.
All in all, though, a good read.
Of Jorie Graham's Swarm, I like the white space, of which there is a lot.