The Quarry Implied by the Monument
In this weather: allthe leafless ampersandsline the boardwalkbeneath a pewter sky.Boughs of blackbirds keenuselessly.The monumentality of thissadness whose hold oncelessened unto almost nothingduring the day. Believing itreal then only at night—the force of thathalf-light through the curtains.And the wind,the sound of it, stirring—
In the corner of my unquiet, there's a loom.Behind the loom, undoing.Let us focus then on the loom.The tapestry is a kind of omen.Materials are obviously important.In the absence of a proper skein, I'malso a fan of vinyl and featherintertwined to form a dooropening onto a fieldwhere the saffron is symbolic.The field is probably a plain.Nein, a meadow.See, for example, the lark and the lily.Watch the hands at work on the herringbone.They seem to know exactly what to do, weavingfilament and wisteria into a scene-all very pastoral, unlikely.There's not one poplar in sight.There's no dread.In the corner of the loom, I can see the future,a face almostfully-formed. There,beneath the pear tree in the arbor,you've never seen anything so beautiful.
“The Quarry Implied by the Monument; Idyll” from In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame
© 2019 by Julia Guez.
Appears with the permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
Julia Guez’s poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and translations have appeared or will soon be forthcoming in POETRY, The Guardian, Boston Review, PEN Poetry Series, BOMB, The Seattle Review and Hyperallergic. Her debut collection, In An Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also A Frame, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in the fall of 2019. Guez has been awarded the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship and The John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize in Translation. She holds degrees from Rice and Columbia. For the last decade, Guez has worked with Teach For America; she’s currently the managing director of programming. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers and writes poetry reviews for Publishers Weekly. Guez lives in Brooklyn. Visit her at https://juliaguez.net/.
"As its title suggests, Guez's lucid and impeccably curated debut is concerned with the act (or art) of setting aside representative specimens for one's marvel and scrutiny, stray or key elements of experience ('a cistern full of asters, ' 'half-light through the curtains, ' 'a body / defining itself more broadly / as the province of another body') that hint at the vast unfathomable whole of a life. The impulse to do so seems rooted in an almost classical susceptibility to beauty and to pain, often felt at the same time, as well as in the will to manage what feels like chaos by containing it in words, performing what Tennyson calls 'the sad mechanic exercise, / Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.' The lure of drugs, death, and other forms of escape haunt these poems--whose voice already seems so fully developed and distinctive--but ultimately the stronger draw is towards life itself, its common sacraments and mysteries, marriages and births, which Guez's exceptional artistic wisdom help us to find, after all this hardship, nothing short of miraculous."