Friday, August 28, 2009

Emily Kendal Frey's poem BRIDGE

This appears on Sink Review: I post the entire poem below, but you should check out that entire issue of SR.


I thought I could hear him crossing a bridge.

Underneath it, the city flared like an ear.

I dialed his number many times.

There are hills and then there are bigger hills.

I decided to walk home but everything was burning.


When a poem is called Bridge, you might not think of suicide jumpers, but I do. In Emily Kendal Frey’s short poem, we get no overt description of one. We do get a pleasing compression, and a subtle set of images for the most part. Along with an allusive finesse that directs our attention toward the subject without forcing anything on us, the piece promises and almost delivers a coup de grace.

The city flaring like an ear is an original, evocative and totally successful simile. The dialing-his-number line is moving because it’s clearly about his death or disappearance, or at least departure, and while we’ve all heard of this syndrome among people who’ve lost loved ones, I’ve never read it in a poem. That it’s left alone is good. The “hills” line is a terrific one that also stands on its own. Finally, the last line breaks the spell. “Everything was burning” is too general, and to my mind little histrionic even if the darkest implications of this poem are true. I would have preferred an image of a single thing on fire, perhaps. I can’t picture “everything was burning” as easily as I can picture one (or even several) conflagrations. Perhaps a failure of my imagination, but that’s something I’ve found in the writing I like most; the metaphors are surprising in their specificity.

Overall, I really like this writer’s work, including her other poems published in coconut ten. I will be looking out for further publications from her.

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