“[…] she isn’t mine. Still, my home”–from “Belonging,” Love and Errors

The thing, say scholars, that differentiates poetry from prose is the line. Even knowing about the existence of prose poetry (and how it still manages to metrically work silence and music in similar ways to enjambment), we can look to line to guide us, musically, tensely, to expanded meaning.

The line works in Kimberly Dark’s newest book, Love and Errors. Far from being what they seem, the poems in this collection invite the reader to question what they think they mean; often, they beg for second, third, fourth readings. Dark layers meaning on meaning; that which would ordinarily have a kaleidoscope effect actually achieves startling clarity. Take “Belonging”, for example:

The cat must keep from the dying

rats and so she does; they’re in the eaves,

she with comfy sofas down below.

It’s not as if we use that space above.

It’s just their noise and habits that offend.

I prayed for them to leave the poison

even as I placed it.

This makes it seem they had a choice.

So they did, as well did I.

So do we all in moving, staying,

praying, loving, breathing,

in battle and in touch.

Dying, not so much.

“Belonging” takes something as simple as the presumed order of things—the universe, the chain of command—and makes it mean, makes it tender to the touch. The cat must keep, from the dying and from the rats. The break in lines is masterful, the opportunity costs small. There is no pleasure in attempting to keep order, or make sense of a senseless word, Dark invites us to think, and in doing so, we do.

This collection rings through with clarity and beauty and incredible construction. I found myself thinking about the Buson poem, “Coolness” (Coolness—/the sound of the bell/as it leaves the bell) while reading this collection, because each poem was a resounding sound and bell, clear and ringing, as the last. This is truly a remarkable collection from a talented and necessary voice.


Love and Errors
By Kimberly Dark
Puna Press
Paperback, 9780998372815, 86 pp.
July 2018

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