Applies to Oranges

Maureen Thorson. Ugly Duckling (SPD, dist.), $13 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-933254-85-2
Thorson's first full-length combines the nuanced clarity of the traditional sonnet sequence with the programmatic experiment for which Ugly Duckling has become known. Each page holds one untitled, unrhymed 14-line poem; each poem uses the word "orange," most of them also use "spider," and many of them involve a subtropical island. Thorson's angular sentences, her absences of context, may disorient a new arrival, but rereading reveals, along with attention to landscape, something like a story of pursuit, of found and lost love: an "I" discovers a "you," they become a "we" and then discover that they remain emotionally apart: "even if the sea/ were to roil and give way... I'd still be alone/ in the aperture of wishyouwerehere." Thorson (who practices law) can also be diffident, coy, and evasive amid her descriptions: "We've all hid our feelings in the greenery," she admits. Finally she applies herself to the study of hiding, of memory as such. "What if I could cure and keep/ our one sad slice of time?" she asks, but decides that this island, this consciousness, no longer believes in resolutions: "No sunsets and no after. Only holes/ strung together, a succession of lacks... into night that open over me like an orange." (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
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