SUNNYLYNN THIBODEAUX Reviews
fault tree by kathryn l. pringle
(Omnidawn Publishing,Richmond, CA 2012)
fault tree! Please plant another
Every once in a while, oh and I do wish it were more often, you come across a book of poetry and read it through and through and you say, “That’s it? But I want more!” And then you realize that despite the number of pages you’ve burned through there is so much more. There’s an unfolding deep into the gut and head of impression and reflection that reveals itself slowly and then quickly and then slowly again. kathryn l. pringle’s fault tree is one of these books.
There’s a looking in on itself, a speaker describing and dissecting an image of an alter-self -- a reflective analysis that dizzies with role and purpose, a certainty of the uncertainty that one even exists
“of course, one could make the argument that you were never there
which is problematic
for me being situated more or less
outside of you who
may or may not be
there or anywhere
if you exist in the future
then I am chasing you
or just behind” (19)
The almost maze like perspective in pringle’s poems harkens back to Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion for me. A story that unfolds and weaves from different persons only to be taken back to a point of one person—the young Frenchman sent to fight in the Napoleonic wars, the cross-dressing Venetian woman, 4 stories that begin as 2 different voices. pringle, in 3 sections, embraces a soldier, a patient, lovers re-feeling out their footing in the relationship:
“in sleeping we turn off towards
walls – single – after coupling
I place my hand on yr hip flexor
you sigh and back up into me
this is what i like.
when we are old
we will be crazy
and they will try and take us
there will be two crazies of us
but take us they will” (64)
The questions surrounding the regard of self raise their head. There are no concrete answers as the guise shifts from one speaking who “yesterday . . . was alive” (24) to the one who later states, “i i i / don’t want to go to camp / there is no me there” (61)
The reflection of a self is tied up in the relation of time. Time shifts and jumps and the speaker, all the while holding a mirror for the sake of identity, changes faces and becomes political, scientific, a lover. The speaker’s afraid of the system, part of the system and the creator of the system at the same time. pringle delicately and confoundedly weaves the emotive friction of various life circumstances, as if many tales were gathered from generations upon generations while at the same time it could be you, the reader. I surely felt there were moments that I even was speaking. And thought how does she know this about me?
fault tree is a beautiful, sometimes hauntingly mysterious, crisscrossing journey of what may or may not be waking moments. “the moment is like falling asleep. sometimes i think i am asleep. but for the sleep’s duration . . .” (11) It will take you in and hold you, even mistrustfully, but it won’t let go. “therefore you are not leaving this island.” (13)
Sunnylyn Thibodeaux is from New Orleans and lives in San Francisco. She is the author of Palm to Pine (Bootstrap 2011) and many small books. With her husband, Micah Ballard, she co-edits Auguste Press and Lew Gallery Editions and has a daughter, Lorca Manale Ballard.