Category Archives: Doxey, Joanna

Joanna Doxey: I fracture again.

(more broadly I want to focus on pages 8-13, 40, 43, 45, 57, 58)

(I am keeping this in this poor formatting because it reflects how I think as I am reading. I put this together as I read the book and wanted to preserve the complexity of thought in the book as well as how I discovered new ideas as I went along and how they related back to previous images.)

The epigraph to Plainspeak, WY reads “: this land is a memory of wind without wind” and the wind imagery is prevalent all through the entire book, however the line in this poem, “a much younger woman.” and on page 11 she speaks of “just two” which might have been the relationship that is being lost, made me think of Proverbs 11:29, “Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise”.

All these poems are fractured, eroded by the Wyoming wind and so are the consequence of inheriting the wind, the wind eroded the land and the relationship until there is nothing left.

And language functions this same way, because the words define what we are and have (see Jin’s “In New York City”), but to take away the words, to have them eroded leaves just a “husk”, a word as a skeleton (again, Jin, but also on page 12 with “the skeleton of yellow”)  that props up nothing. And so what state does a word exist in without it giving meaning to anything? What state does a person exist in when part of what defines us is removed? Wyoming? And eroded place of just wind and nothing? She explores this even deeper on page 40 where she describes words as “constellations” (page 55 “Ursa Major” she wants to say this word) – outlines of things that are not really there, false meanings, imagines meanings, meanings that in a billion years will be lost because the stars all moved. On 45 she goes as far to say “Language is the closest to loneliness” which for me is a Flaubert allusion, “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” But here instead of wishing to melt the stars as a romantic idea, the words melt and leave an absence. Even her use of “heartbreak” echos in the “cracked kettle” that we tap on. A broken heart, a cracked kettle – “A heartbeat is repetition” (57).

Love here was a glacier that passed through, that shaped, but is now gone and the landscape can’t be built back up because it’s shape was dependent on something that melted and receded. And this melting (“disappeared”) is interesting because love is described as melting our heart, but here it’s a negative. The melting leaves only a husk. Love here is cold, and it’s made up of a water similar to tears – page 10’s poem says “and I cannot get salt and teeth out of my head” which alludes and connects us to the salt of tears as well as anger – flashing teeth as we yell at each other. Love turned into crying and pain and absence.  In Chapter 1 (page 9) and again on page 40, she calls this “(fluvial mourn)”.

And so the final word here is “empty?” but there is a question mark, too which makes me wonder if there is still some hope left? Does it have to be empty, can it come back? Can we extract the “sad” (40) from her? “None of these work”. Yet she is “done with faith” even if “faith / is not done with me”(43).

And so the silent y (why) – (27, 57) has been present all along, it’s absence fills every part of the landscape. Why? Why? This is her plea, her saying “;no; to fill an empty room” (58).