Julie Doxsee’s “Objects for a Fog Death”

A magical book (in the truest dark and layered and mysterious sense of the word–not in the saw-the-lady-in-half sense of the word, although that might work too). A concise book with sentences that snake surprisingly through multiple couplets and end up in unexpected places. Take this line from “Architecture” for instance:

If lightning is just more
heat, where is the cyclone

to entwine us until our
veins take down all

the trees between here
& seven days ago?

Doxsee writes in a way that feels like you are actually seeing the poems through fog–they aren’t muddy or unclear or hazy by way of craft, it’s not that sort of fog–but there always seems to be something swirling up and around the objects at the heart of her poems, or up and around the poet, or maybe the reader. The poems ask a lot of me–they required my vision, too. Or perhaps the fog is a constant and maybe the objects are swaying. Either way, there is lots of movement, and either way you end up thinking you are watching one thing before you realize that you have been looking at something different all along. In “Kitchen Tour” she writes:

Those are
old teeth marks

in the water from
when I bit

all the ice
cubes in half.

The poems are told in a sort of gloaming. That time of night when everything is floaty. It did take me a few poems to become comfortable in Doxsee’s universe–that doorway into her poems required a certain patience to open, but to me that is a good thing. There are a lot of easily opened doors. A like a door that requires a bit of focused attention, a bit of study. Because once that door is open? It doesn’t close. I can’t go back. Once I stopped trying to fan away the fog, and just dove into Doxsee’s surprising lines, vision be damned, I felt both lured further and sorry to turn the page on the last poem. Toward the end of the book, she writes, in a poem titled “Dear Sparrow”:


pretend my door
is your skyload

of leaves, a new
kind of air

you sail.

That pretty much describes it better than I ever could. I recommend the book, especially if you are looking for a new kind of air.

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