Mary Ruefle: Trances of the Blast

Various. Precise. Small openings. A journey from one side of the hour to the other. This is not a review. This is also a movement. Like walking into spring while carrying two small dogs under arm and balancing ice cream cones. I thought, this is a cool noise, like ice cracking under the sand. Or a sweet coffee on a street in Le Marais, except in Vermont ,where poets go to think. I won’t lie. There is not a whiff of James Franco or Kenneth Goldsmith in this book. Lydia Davis doesn’t appear either. God is mentioned. His love too. There are words here that in other hands would seem like doilies and also muffin plates. Don’t set the fruit apart, she seems to be telling us. If you are standing in the bathroom, make it so. Some people are so far inside themselves you need a flashlight just to see their eyes. That isn’t the case with Mary Ruefle. I loved this book from its plain paper cover to the font and tiny Trance to the poems about her mother, and about saints, and Helium, even those that seemed to stare directly into the sun.  As Alice Burdick said in the poem we posted last week, “My hope is more cowbell. / For life: more cowbell!” You’ll find that here.

I’ll leave you with just one of the many poems I marked with little post-it notes.

The spider can barely walk, his legs are so scared—
he’s got to get from the bar of soap to the uppermost
showerstall tile that is his home, and he has suffered
a betrayal so great he’s lost in his own neighborhood,
crawling on his hands and knees, so to speak, in and out
of the shadows of other tiles he’s passed before but
barely recognizes, given his state of shock and disbelief.
Spiders don’t hear very well—he can’t hear the rain
as it falls and cools his flaming legs, the distant screams
of another’s crisis mean nothing to him, he can’t hear
his own heartbeat, an alarm casting his skeleton straight
into hell, his blood ignited by the bellows of loss.
If the gods implore him to hold his saliva, he doesn’t
hear them, he goes on crawling toward the one safe spot,
which has become, in his mind, the destination of his life
and this night rolled into one, a wet bag at the bottom
of which, were it to fall, would lie his demise—
too awful to discuss
from Trances of the Blast, Mary Ruefle