Loads of Learned Lumber

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jessica Savitz, _Hunting Is Painting_

THE TITLE SETS the tone for the volume: a baffling assertion, but so calm and so clear that it creates a micro-climate in which the truth of the proposition seems incontrovertible. The book as a whole, its seven mysteriously-titled sections (e.g., "Conception is the Breaking Chain of a Burning Torch"), and its individual poems constitute a series of nested micro-climates that resemble consensual reality in some respects (containing trees, water, fire, and birthdays) but operate according to causal modalities all their own.


Brown shirt littered in dove's blood;
Hunting is painting and excavating some greater forest.
And hose-water and knife through scales
Cooks alcohol of supper --
I spread the light in salt over my food
And often use a knife to remove a bruise
From the golden peach.

There is bait in the mouths of ice-fishermen.

The cutting knife heals, the fuel becomes the meal, the anglers themselves have taken the bait -- every poem has similar ostranenie-effects, lying at some tangent to the known world yet making the known world come into clearer focus by being obscurely different.

Some lines in "Ceremonial" suggest the title may derive from cave paintings like those of Lascaux, that the poems perhaps represent some intersection of document, dream, and desire.

it's greened, it's ruined
braided minerals on the cave walls
I went into the cave
of my own consciousness
and painted animals on the rounds and ledges there
I am standing or crouching on the shelf of the cave there in
the mind

I am The Neanderthal Kings
with this sweaty ash and jeweled eye

Like Medbh McGuckian, Savitz homes in on the True Earth-Wyrd.

Let's not forget the images drawn by Allison Hawkins, either, the perfect complement to this small book of charms and spells.

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