The Landscape We Left on Each Other
Chapbook, Lauren Elle DeGaine, 20 pgs, The Blasted Tree Art Collective & Publishing Co., theblastedtree.com, $7
Separation — as hinted at in the title —looms over and in these poems. They exist in a hazy, dream-like state, mimicking the way it might feel to remember a traumatic event like a car accident, as if recalling brief flashes, rather than the entire sequence; not being sure if you can believe what you’re remembering.
Lauren Elle DeGaine alternates between free verse and single-paragraph prose poem for this collection. The first type is often enigmatic (“what colour is corners of a mouth / turned up?”) and the second, straightforward. Intersection and collision are predominant themes; people crash as easily as vehicles. DeGaine writes,“We were fighting / when the car just missed us. / We were fucking, / and I cried quietly.”
DeGaine makes astute observations about relationships, with the help of hindsight, suggesting, for example, that the length is irrelevant to the outcome, or that relationships always meet the same end a rain drop does: “It doesn’t matter how long the fall. / When we splash / we go in different directions / like molecules do.”
The one thing that is missing here is the other person’s perspective. Writing the personal side of a separation is easy, but considering the other party may be necessary for the definition of the self in the aftermath.