Sarah Maclay's The White Bride
“To surf, you have to get used to a constantly moving target—the water you’re on is moving. So are you. It’s changing every second, as opposed to say, a mountain—a geographical feature that provides seasonal foliage fluctuation but is basically going to be in the same place for the duration unless it’s also a volcano or something—and even then . .. “Sarah Maclay, poeticdiversity, Nov. 2005
Whereas reading Whore (copyright 2004, University of Tampa Press) is comparable to drifting in the current of a stream on a sultry shadowy evening, Sarah Maclay’s new collection, The White Bride is more like navigating the playful and turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean with a surfboard during an overcast Malibu morning.
In Maclay’s hands, mutability is the binding force; the vagarity of the poet’s moods (sensual, occasionally abrupt, contemplative, humorous) rise and fall in counterpoint to the exquisite lyrical poetry and prose, which, for me, makes navigating through The White Bride at once satisfying and exasperating!
Yet, this is what I have come to expect, as well as crave, in poetry… an elusive glimpse into a world beyond the immediately possible that ultimately disappears between one breath and the next, leaving me exhilarated and slightly confused.
There are plenty of worlds to catch a delicious glimpse of in The White Bride; beautifully wrought vignettes like “Below the Desert,” “Gun Powder on Paper,” and “The Night Roses,” though, in some of the longer (metaphorically speaking) pieces, there exists an opportunity to linger, to ponder, and to orient oneself toward, like a surfer ascending the crest of a wave, as in the ironically and aptly named “Rape,” chronicling one man’s possible violation of a virgin – in theory, and, in a specific place:
"Maybe it is moving like a yellow sea, with corners, so golden, under
the late sun, that he has to stop the car. And he stands now, in
the middle, in this blond field, somewhere in length between a
hundredth and a score. I could say that he discovers, caked in
drying mud, a flat brimmed sunbonnet: straw beginning to curl,
broad blue ribbon pierced by hat pins. Or that he got in by cutting
the wire of the fence as simply as rope; the few pebbles he stepped
on squashed like grapes at his feet…"
The ending of Maclay’s poem “Rape” is, of course, not for me to reveal… my aim is to respect the power in the work and the poet’s original intent, as I perceive it.
I would highly recommend journeying through the pages of The White Bride, not the least of which is for the glorious rush that comes over you, one effervescent peak at a time.
The White Bride, Sarah Maclay, Copyright 2008, University of Tampa Florida Press, 978-1597320412, 84 pages, $22