“We don’t remember our birth, when a mother dies, it’s gone.” (River Sound Remembered, 499)
Victoria Chang’s six poems in the Summer 2021 Issue of the Sewannee Review are hauntingly meditative. Reminiscent of the poetry of Andrea Gibson, the first four are quiet votives, deceptively brief. Each poem asks a question, directly or indirectly and leaves the reader staring at the words, eyes blurring, wondering to themselves about “the great mystery.” (Fogborn, 502)
Contrasted with the last two poems in the collection, both titled “Marfa, Texas,” the first four seem like preparation. They clear the mind for the powerful images of riot and nature. Out of the silence of the first four, the reader reeling internally, a woman emerges. “She and I didn’t speak. / We ran side by side.” Just as the poem places us at the crossroads, between America and Mexico, urbanity and the desert, we are left at the intersection of noise and silence. Chang rushes us towards the wild, living joy of a car on fire. But the poet observes from afar, with the stranger, like her reader, a distance that wonders at the existence of the event. Just as her first poem wonders, in just three lines, “How does the river / live without silence?”
The Echo welcomes collections of poems that connect like these, intertwining themes and images, that capture moments of violent importance as well as moments of peaceful meditation.