the water’s dribble makes you want to cry, not because the pipes are dry like your grandmother’s bones, but because the sky is still, yet moves like the night you turned seven. This is a lovely set of lines: precise and surprising in syntax. However, Luna undoes the power of these lines with the next couple, which only restate the action and overstate the sentiment: Here, the dry garden hose brings tears to your eyes, and you weep your insignificance. In another poem, “Bayou Trolling,” Luna’s speaker finds that, after an afternoon trolling the bayou with colorful new friends, her spirits have been lifted, her self renewed. I found myself startled and moved by the last stanza on the page: “You’re a tough woman.” I should’ve kissed him after I jumped off his boat and later returned to New Orleans, where a silver-painted mime strewn in Mardi Gras beads stood, a statue, winking. “I see you,” the white-faced jester sang. And so I was disappointed when, turning the page, I found the poem continued for two more stanzas, soupy with poetic language, and ending with an overwrought sentiment: We are all of such shine, brandy in the open throat or the moving white-eyes of a mime performing. Our word-wounds heal, burn, as fresh water meets the salt and magnolias weep light. Luna’s linguistic powers are most keen when she resists the inclination to let loose a deluge of language. Her poetic leaps are best made in poems that are well grounded in time and space. The dazzling short poem “Two Girls from Juarez” begins in just this way: Two girls from Juarez hesitantly step toward my desk. “Ms.,” one says with a paperback of Plath ‘s Ariel, corners folded and coffee stained. “Was she white or black?” Here we find Luna’s voice sharpened by restraint. In its neatness of syntax and casual twist of narrative, the poem swings its door open wide. The two students, having read “Daddy,” accuse Plath of being prejudiced. Luna’s speaker thinks to herself: a black man bites a woman’s heart, and all the wit and the wordplay between darkness and light shrugs. Undoubtedly, the best of Luna’s poems create this kind of complicated and unresolved tension. Unnervingly, Luna’s powers lie in creating landscapesinternal and externalfilled with this precariousness, this conflict, where the tables are constantly being turned, and where her reader is forced into uncomfortable contact with a wild, frightening, humanity. Carrie Fountain is a writer in Austin. WRITE DIALOGUE 307. W 7th Street Austin, TX 78701 [email protected] At a loss for an answer, conflicted, the speaker turns swiftly, surprisingly away from the self, to a careful description of the girls: One wears an electronic bracelet around her ankle. The other’s cheeks are red with too much rouge. I imagine they live nights dangerously in an Oldsmobile near the Rio Grande, that they love for real and they love for love. The poem ends with subtle power, with the speaker admitting: I lost answers long ago and the faces of my colleagues grew ghost-like and words fell away and the poetry cancer came like a priest for the sacrifice. JANUARY 13, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31 I.
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