Read This: Breach by Anne Haines


My new weekly post on books you must read begins today with Breach ($14, Finishing Line Press) by Anne Haines. I knew Anne was a fine a poet from the work she's posted on her blog and from what I've read in various journals. However, I wasn't prepared for the absolute brilliance of her chapbook. There is an undeniable sense of wanting in these poems, and a building sense of stagnancy (or "entrophy" as one poem suggests) that only the seashore can wash clean. The word "breach" appears in various forms throughout the collection, including the leaping whales that break the surface of the ocean. The moon, the tides, the waxing and waning of love, the change of seasons are all here in elegant detail. The narrator is "landlocked" and, like another definition of breach, her future is on temporary hold. Harbingers and incidents are all linked in some way back to the sea, which seems so close and so far away. Breach moved me; made me catch my breath. Every poem and every line is essential. 

Landlocked, August

Every day I sleep a little bit longer,
lose a little bit more.
There are no whales here, not even zoos.
An unfamiliar bird squawks outside my window.

There is a landscape I'm in love with,
far from here. It cannot send me flowers
or call me on the phone. I dream
of water at the tideline, kelp and wrack,

wake salt-stained. I am tired
of every form of longing.
This landlocked bed rocks and rocks
me back to sleep for hours

till I wake irretrievably, gray, displaced.
I consult the atlas, the encyclopedia of weather,
the fortune teller's cards. Consensus:
an approaching front, an unbreachable border,

my own sense of resignation. But listen:
it's almost autumn. The first trees
are already changing , leaves gone the color
of the edge of something, the last

flare of warmth as I hurtle, coiled
in sheets like a dangerous animal,
towards another equinox, towards that balance
of all my days here in the center of the world.

Comments

Rachel Mallino said…
Collin - another fine reason for me to visit your blog. You picked a great poem - thanks for a glimpse inside the chapbook. Now I must go and add this to my "to read" list.

Best,
Rachel
i heart anne haines
ButtonHole said…
Oh that is a wonderful poem!
Anne said…
I'm sitting here all tomatoey-colored, you guys (and it's not a hot flash this time) ... thanks! :) Collin, my mom will be putting you on her payroll soon, I'm sure... ;)
Collin said…
Anne, it's my pleasure. This is a gorgeous collection.
KATE EVANS said…
I agree 100% Collin!
DeadMule said…
Collin, I meant to comment that I think this weekly feature is very cool. I try to focus on the accomplishments of others as well as my own. It's great how you do this too. (And always have). I just think this is a good addition.
Helen
Emily A. Benton said…
damn, that is a very good poem.

anne's book is sitting in my pile calling to be read. thanks for turning that call into a scream, collin!
Diane Lockward said…
Yes, it's a wonderful collection. I wonder why on your cover image the title is vertical? On my cover the title is horizontal.
Collin said…
The cover type is horizontal on my actual copy, but it appears vertically on this promo image and on Finishing Line's website.
Dick said…
A fine evocation of the passage of personal time and season. Beautifully balanced and crafted. As one still tuning into the wealth of contemporary American poetry, this is going to mean another trip to Amazon!
Lisa Allender said…
Whew! Lovely, lovely. Evokes such desire. And loss.
Anne said…
I can't resist butting into the commentstream to say thanks so much, y'all!

As for the cover, the vertical lettering was the preliminary design, so it went out on the pre-order postcards. But the final design was horizontal.

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