Heather Christle — The Trees The Trees

When reviews of Heather Christle‘s new book The Trees The Trees (Octopus, 2011) began to pop up, I made a resolution to not read any of them until I had read the entire book first. I didn’t want to risk being tainted by the opinions of others, particularly since it took me so long to try and wrap my mind around her poems in The Difficult Farm—a book which, fittingly, featured a possibly disfigured, maybe merely curious rabbit on its cover. Despite the ultimate pleasures I derived from it, that book baffled me to no end during my initial read. However, something continued to call me back and I’m glad I heeded that song, though I really could not say or define in any manner what that frequency was.

•     •     •

what about you who are so frequently touching / some part of the world / what is it you’re touching today / when I touch the trees

•     •     •

A similar voice emerged from The Trees The Trees and while it may have been a different frequency, there was no denying its grip. Ms. Christle is a hell of a siren, I don’t care that my boat is smashed upon the rocks, stranded. That voice—and I don’t mean hers in the writing so much as the atmosphere—is the one that reassures, “No, no, you’re here, it’s alright, live with these poems the way you speak with the animals.” The bewilderment that envelops you, the occasional obliqueness of possible connections, is never troubling—it is almost disconcertingly a sign to come closer.

•     •     •

sometimes a choice is needed / to pick the door / and not the doorway / the woman makes an offer / the man forgets to vibrate / and promptly falls apart

•     •     •

In these poems there is no reading between the lines. Each poem is a window (almost literally as the text is a block), the words leaves and branches just beyond, framing their own peculiar gaps. Yes, okay, you can read between the lines, but that space is an inversion where there are too many possible, potential connections for any comprehensible symbol other than pure whiteness (as in all colors at once) to exist.

•     •     •

tonight / everyone’s sending me flowers / and I am upset / thinking maybe where I am the earth will collapse / I mean / they are light enough / but gather this / many together

•     •     •

Such potent utilization of normally “negative” space is, at least to my own green mind, a bold and breathtaking maneuver. Not only does it conjure glimpsing the sky (for example) through the book’s titular Trees, there is the simultaneous insinuation of the space within an actual mind/brain, between neurons firing brief messages, almost incomprehensible in their autonomy, to one another. Only with a measure of distance do clearer mental formations develop.

•     •     •

everything is possible / and not happening / to me in this plausible room

•     •     •

Figuratively, we also get space representative of the cognitive gaps in our daily experience: the disjunction in a pause, or overhearing another person’s utterance to the disruption of your own thoughts. And from personal experience, my own thoughts are constantly disrupted by the rush of tangents seemingly from nowhere. To some extent I’m reminded of Williams’ mid-thought pauses and re-starts throughout the “prose” sections of Spring and All, where his explications are halted by the realization that he’s not quite making his point right, as if to say, “Hold on, let me try this again. . . .”

•     •     •

make statements / deny statements / the vital / thing’s to make a little noise

•     •     •

But really the enduring image this collection burned into me is the multiplicity of arms reaching out to other arms. The title seems ever more appropriate when considering that rhizomic element present in each poem. And we can also consider how much we miss the forest when we get stuck paying attention to the trees, the trees. I’m so enamored by the bounty offered by each of these trees, yet their sum is so much greater than even the most enthralling of its individual parts. Surely one that, like her first book, continues to reward the reader on each return.

•     •     •

it’s not normal / for a person / to be contained in a / basket / aloft in blank air / like water in a red cup / I took the shape of my death / and my anger / there was no forgiveness / there were so many / clouds

•     •     •

Now go see what other interesting things folks have said about The Trees The Trees

The Faster Times


The Pinky Swear Club


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