BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
While I was admiring the navy blue of the Atlantic a few weeks ago in a secluded Cape Cod house, I hungrily read Rebecca Kaiser Gibson‘s “Opinel.” It is a poetry book full of majestic, dreamlike imagery set in an all-too-real world. Published in 2015 by Bauhan Publishing, it centers around both urban and rural landscapes, mythical and mundane lives; it is a book that speaks well of loneliness, using the earth as both lover and enemy.
The poems’ structure range from neat tercets to indented spheres hovering within the pages, lifting as if to take off to the outer parts of space. They are like jewels–incredibly beautiful and neat yet its mysteriousness is exactly what makes it so tantalizing. The book really starts to take form in the poem “I Was Not One of Them,” where the narrator remarks on seemingly adolescent girls, remarking she was not one of them, but noticing their confidence which she so desires: “they saw themselves gorgeous / shells of self, a swirl” (Gibson, 15).
The narrator’s inability to fully engage in the world around her, in the way she yearns to, manifests itself physically in “At the Audiologist’s.” The poem portrays the narrator’s mother’s visit to the doctor, listening to sounds in a headset; the poem concludes prophetically: “(Puddle of black in both ears)” (Gibson, 21).
Strained relationships with family members, particularly mothers and daughters, permeates this book like smoke in a 1920s speakeasy. There are lines that totally get it right–the hidden resentments that come out as scathing irrationalities, seen in “Silent in the Face”: “I said, / “I’ve got cancer,” She said, / “How could you do this to me?” (Gibson, 23).
I’ve read and reread this book three times already, and I still don’t think I’m done with it yet. This is the highest form of praise I can give.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (forthcoming 2016, ELJ Publications) & Xenos (forthcoming 2017, Agape Editions). She received her MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the chief editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of her writing has appeared in Prelude, The Atlas Review, The Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, and elsewhere. She has lead workshops at Brooklyn Poets.