Navigate, Amelia Earhart’s Letters Home by Rebecca Loudon
(No Tell Books, 2006)
Cadaver Dogs by Rebecca Loudon
(No Tell Books, 2008)
A few of the traces of Amelia Earhart’s post-historical life surface between the pages of this book. Tho the only way we know what’s between the pages (indelible invisible ink) is by what’s on them. And what’s on them, it’s as if fever had written/is writing: traces lead to traces … Now I’m too something. Now you’re too something. Now I’m a Kiki Smith woman carrying a wolf across my back. My house has birds flying in it, my house is an island … the wolf is not the kind that sits safely in the lap.
Now I’m too small even for a girl. Now I’m too big.
Letters are addressed to her family: father, mother, sister Muriel/Pidge; Frank Hawks, who gave AE her first airplane ride; pioneer aviator Anita Snook, who taught E to fly; her navigator Fred Noonan; and her husband/partner George P Putnam. Lost journal entries are addressed to … the Erinyes? … the future? … I assume all letters and journal entries are written after AE falls out of history and into her fate.
The book tracks an arc of sorts. Which begins with “O jubilate” … and ends with I was a seed pod tumbling and an admission:
… what a bad idea it was
to have decided against the parachutes …
and passes thru love regret and a million other states between. Sometimes she lives, sometimes she dies. Loudon’s AE covers the ground the way a shadow does, a shadow cast by an old ghost plane.
A(nother?) Kiki Smith wolfwoman is the tutelary deity of Cadaver Dogs, tho dogs are not wolves, wolves are not dogs, but who feels it knows it, and …
These poems are intense. It doesn’t matter the subject, or the manner of construction. Take, f’rinstance, something neutral, like this found poem, “Sock Monkey Directions”:
Draw a line for your monkey’s tail
Sew your monkey’s arms
Sew your monkey’s tail
Turn legs inside out
Cut your monkey’s arms
Cut your monkey’s tail
Secure your monkey’s crotch
Stuff your monkey’s crotch
Sew up your monkey’s crotch
Trim your monkey’s crotch
Attach your monkey’s arms
Backstitch your monkey’s mouth
Secure the ears with invisible stitching
Sure, of course, monkey is a loaded word. But why does this hurt so much? “Backstitch your monkey’s mouth / Secure the ears with invisible stitching” … I can’t read this without flinching …
The title poem is serial; at least it comes in eleven sections. It begins
the electricity meter spins and spins
you yell what makes it spin like that
what source of power are you abusing
… her desperate hands
wiping and wiping the sterile
skin sluicing blood
from a puncture until it runs pink
lips puckered whispering
wound wound wound
I read it as a love poem. I think the whole book’s autobiographical. I don’t think this is fiction. That doesn’t mean all this happened. Just. Like. That. But that’s exactly how it happened, and keeps happening. Do I sound confused? I’m not, but don’t ask me to describe what I just read. I mean. After all. What is description? You hadda be there. Be there.
Be there. Where the humanimal lives …
And the bees, the bees: the bees make honey in the lion’s head. Loudon is one who is one. I for one won’t miss a word, from now until the end.
John Bloomberg-Rissman is the author of a number of chapbooks, most recently World Zero and A Spectrum of Other Instances. He is also the author of the full-length No Sounds of My Own Making, and the editor of 1000 Views of ‘Girl Singing’. His work has appeared in numerous journals and in several anthologies. His current project is Flux, Clot & Froth, which will probably top out at 700+ pages, and for which he hopes to find one reader, please. He is part of the team (title: editor or something) at Leafe Press. His ongoing efforts can be seen at Zeitgeist Spam.