Kristi Maxwell. Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $17.50 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-934103-23-4
The couple that travels through Maxwell’s fourth collection repays the closest attention: their odd interactions may speak to our own. Early in this sequence of short untitled poems, he and she come together in winter: “Wand-like, her touch on his arm pale as innards of gum wrappers/ and folded accordingly.” Later, perhaps during an evening out, their “bright bodies fight brightness with powder and clothes”; as they pack, or unpack, a kitchen, they learn “Fork-speak. Fork-tongued, they were undone/ by need to breach the rivers printed on their skulls,/ and dry.” Other segments (some guesswork is required) take place at a carnival, in a church, on rural travels, perhaps in bed: “When he is an ox, she alternates/ between onyx and field to be tediously/ plowed.” The title suggests that they break up and get back together, or that he and she re-acquaint themselves each day; it also warns, and encourages, us that some re-reading will be required if we are to rewrite our own domestic scripts, rather than emulating “their most precious robot/ he bought for them.” By turns acerbic and affectionate, the man and woman here regard themselves as Maxwell’s eye regards them both: if she is hard to interpret, at times, so are real people in real courtships or marriages. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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