Sarah Vap - American Spikenard
So anyway, I’ve been enjoying Sarah Vap’s Dummy Fire for the past week, and then I started reading her other 2007 book, American Spikenard, and was taken immediately by the power of her poems’ fragility.
I was thinking, reading Dummy Fire, that her poems threatened to disappear into the world, in enigmatic and powerful ways, gestural ways. I’ll stand by that for Dummy Fire, but American Spikenard is something of a different creature, at once moving toward the ephemerality of Dummy Fire, but with a longer line, and in that, a longer dwelling in the moment of her attention. The way that the closest attention is always going to be childlike.
Or something like that. Here’s a poem that occurs early in American Spikenard, as I’m only about half way through right now.
Couldn’t you verify what I sense: that there’s no reason
to be disappointed by any particular
outcome. Describe a beautiful pattern—
amazing. I call it elegance. Single. But pattern is feeble
compared to attraction
which makes it or breaks. I’m trying to account
for all the sisters’ wildly
different strengths, and hurtling down to the center of the earth. I heard a voice say
Personalize this, Sweetheart.
That could be a battle for me—a doddering, sympathetic figure wishing
both symmetry and chance.
I heard my little sister speaking
with mother and father for hours—their rented house by the water;
seawater, diving puffins. They had
a nice conversation. I shouldn’t have minded. It had to do
with what I would have said to them. I’d say there must be choice
at subatomic levels—eventually,
the smallest things in me will make the same choice.
I’m so far away right now. This is all I can say: there’s a chance that I could pass
through something solid.