r. erica doyle

Winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award in 2014

In this fairytale, too, there is a castle. On a rise above a river.  You enter in a cycle.  The dew is come in words.

 

The grasp of the offered hand a falling in to spin, craned sequence, flashing before, as if.  Curious, curious.  The moment you knew everything – when she lifted her eyes from the plate.  Her gaze was a solar wind, stripping.  All the years I   The horse of your heart.

 

*

 

She is the gape of a second.  A glyph you remembered how to read.  The other lovers rattle their sabers.  They don't see WHAT.  She's not really THAT.  It's all a cumulus din you wade around in when she leaves for years.  Her words are a dry arroyo.  It is all an ice pack, novocaine, delerium tremens, the haze left after a high fever.  Until she comes back.

 

 

*

 

If she were any closer, you'd eat her for dinner, you think.  As it is, you're starving.  And not.  You weather this all with seeming good humor.  Write notes to amuse yourself.  You have become too earnest, trying so hard to mean something important.  Watch the drain and hear your stomach growl.  Negroes make me hungry, too, she says.  You need an explanation but say nothing to this boastful non sequitur.  You want to amuse her with your bones.

 

*

 

You watch the men march on television.  She is a letter in the envelope of your body. A general with your father's mouth sputters over documents.  Something about obstruction and leaning.  You crease.  She unfolds. The bold paragraph in the dimple of her back is blue.

 

*

 

Everything the same terrible color.

 

Gather in her breasts like sails.  Like nets and draw deep.  The hand pumps between.  A link to turning inside, out.

 

All the displaced lust in the world would not pacify this quest.  The fist in the center of your chest is turning.  Everything behind it is wet and begging.  Your ears pop in the tunnel.  Fragrances of sound emerge dully. Postulate, postulate, gratiating consciousness.  Around the first the scar tissue thickens.  You were born with that wound.  It's getting deeper.

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Maggie Nelson on r. erica doyle

On the one hand, this was a hard call, as I've been swimming so enjoyably for months now in raucously good first collections of poetry, such as those by the two finalists I've here named, DJ Dolack's Whittling a New Face in the Dark and Marni Ludwig's Pinwheel. On the other hand, however, r. erica doyle's proxy shocked me with its goodness upon first read, and that shock has stayed preeminently fresh every time I revisited its pages. The prose poems of proxy are crystalline per each, but together they constitute a sort of erotic page-turner, in which the stakes are none other than the capacities of the human heart (its want, its mess, its deceptions, its bright shames, its fever to be known); the experience of inhabiting a propulsive human body, through all its proprioceptions, phantasms, and smash-ups with others; and the relation of language to each, how to get it down. But doyle does more than get it down. Every surprising, beautiful, take-no-prisoners sentence of proxy reminds me how inventive language might expand our experience of our flesh, make it new, deepen our connection to it, rather than supplant it, compete with it, or fray it. "Between you the golden thread shines," doyle writes. "It's made of blood and hope. You drag yourself along its solid length." I'm happy to drag myself along this golden thread, along with anywhere else this speaker wants to take me. It's an honor to select proxy for this year's first book award.

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