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Somewhere The / Shaking

Chapbook, Sarah Cook, 26 pgs, above/ground press,, $5

Poetry that marks the end of a relationship is rarely refreshing; a considerable amount of detachment is required to prevent a slide from introspection into lamentation.

Sarah Cook ably manages that vital objectivity while inside her head, or inside her house (or a house she built with her words). She coins a term early in Somewhere The / Shaking that describes her starting point: “the ingrained estate of being.”

Locations and items in the house act as emissaries for her moods, memories and failures. Each poem is titled with one: “Door,” “Front Porch,” “Bed Frame.” The desk is an especially ominous presence — a constant reminder of a failure to accomplish. Cook’s lack of motivation is evident and she acknowledges it: “i pretend to not have questions, to be a fan of waiting… Googled the definition of the word, ‘eager.’”

This is a claustrophobic collection; there’s a pervading feeling of emptiness in Cook’s house. She’s the only one present — though she often refers to an unnamed other — and we spend as much time in her thoughts as we do in the physical space. Much of this is cryptic, but some of Cook’s enigmatic questions come across as profound (and ultimately rhetorical): “what is a moment when it’s more than the word? … why do I confuse bodies with answers?”

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