“Trust Me, You’re Gonna Love This:”
Leigh Anne Hornfeldt’s Fleshed
Opening Leigh Anne Hornfeldt’s new collection of poetry, Fleshed (Winged City Chapbook Press, 2016), I was so happy to find ”What to Do When You’re Locked out of Your Home.” This poem is familiar. I remember falling in love with it when Hornfeldt posted it to the Accents Publishing Blog during Lexington Poetry month in 2013. This is a poem I’d like to carry inside of me, for it provides calm, comforting instructions. The poem opens: “You’ll want to panic. Don’t.” The poem provides further advice: “it’s important to remember / that you’re not alone, not ever / really alone.” I’m not really doing this poem justice, for a can of worms is opened near poem’s end: “There is something inside your home / that must come out and you think / you might already know this . . . Try not to count / how many hours until the door opens. / What will be waiting behind it.” This house is not just a house, but a body.
“This Is Not a Drill’ assures me with a similarly objective voice: “According to a dot on a map / WE ARE HERE.” I am appreciative of being located firmly in space, for this is a dire situation: “Do you have insurance? / You should. This is not an extravagance . . . There are rubber gloves / in all the drawers but none / your size.” The end of this poem, again, embodies us: “We’ll all stay / in these bodies until further notice.”
In contrast to these moments that locate us in space, there are moments in this collection that dislocate us. These are moments of dream, of disobedience. Images of birds in flight, balloons. Bourbon. The prose poem “Redux” warns: “Listen. This next part is important. Where you’re going there are no guides so you must find your way on your own. You didn’t bring a map.” Again I hear the comforting voice: “You’ve come back to this place and you can return again whenever you’d like.” This is a place of lucid dream. For sometimes we don’t want to be embodied. Sometimes we want to fly. Sometimes we just want to cartwheel again. “Therapy” suggests “noncompliance,” as does “Starlings Have Nested in the Dryer Vent”: “I should reach into the vent . . . I don’t.”
The collection’s title poem, “Fleshed,” sounds very much in tone like the voice of Sylvia Plath. It is, ironically, the tone of detached disembodiment: “Body, I say, where have you been?” This is a poem about ambivalence: “O, tender wilderness of marriage. / The last time I went away I returned / missing an earring . . . I want in and out, like a cat.” This is a poem about hunger: “I want to come / again so I can leave again. I want to be searched for / like a hidden mouth / that wants feeding.”
“Trust Me, You’re Gonna Love This” is a delightful witty prose poem about love and the difficulty in naming it. It opens: “I already don’t love whatever it is he thinks I’m gonna love because he’s said love and I don’t like that word . . . Because it’s vague and overdone.” I think this is a poem about the difficulty of verbalizing emotions sincerely. It is very playful. And fun. I think you will love it. I think you will love all of these poems.
Nettie Farris is the author of Communion (Accents Publishing, 2013), Fat Crayons (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and the micro-chapbook Story (Origami Poems Project, 2016). Her chapbook The Wendy Bird Poems is forthcoming from dancing girl press.