Though the library was closed, the lights had briefly blazed on, and she guessed Baker had broken in again. When Susan rushed through the front door and saw Baker, she grabbed the desk phone and shouted that she was dialing 911. Baker then fled through the side door. Then Susan called me, the librarian of this one-room rural Vermont library.
Victoria Chang’s collection, Obit, seems to have anticipated the prolonged good-byes of 2020. In it, Chang says good-bye to loved ones, feelings, objects—everything we feel and know, who we were and where we’re heading—especially when someone we love is dying, and our sense of awareness is heightened.
This stunning book-length poem, broken up into 103 sections, examines the grief and trauma associated with losing a young sister from suicide. Threaded also through these lyrics is a conversation with Paul Celan’s Selected Poems and Dante’s Inferno.
Our prayer was not dissimilar. It’s the one in which man meets woman and they’re yoked at the loins, pinned at the heart, pulled together by centrifugal force. Grant us good sex, amen.
It was as though technique somehow made you a slave to the system, a system that dictated a structure that boxed you in and held you back from the free expression of who you were. Lose the structure, shed the form, and you were revealed.
We wake like bees and peel a lemon. / Then there is a glowing. / Do you want to eat it wedge by wedge?
In this landscape, churches seem displaced. / Half close your eyes in quiet contemplation, / look behind the convents and the crosses.
Because the day changed you. Because your sister just left / one day and made you the one who. Because you forget
We do not know what a body can do… / how when she crossed the street
Whenever the revolution breaks out / in this country, he’s ready to go, dressed / in camouflage all the way up to the visor
System of Ghosts is not an archive of spirits or dead things, but an analysis of the living. The reader is not a complacent audience waiting to be entertained, but an active traveler.