Her Many Feathered Bones
Her Many Feathered Bones
I tried to think like you all day.
I left my hinge at the ice cream store,
the tiny screw that holds the arm
to the main part of the frame,
at the heavy machinery warehouse.
Six or seven important words
are back at the bowling alley,
perhaps in the pin collector,
as are my shoes and the socks
I stole from your drawer;
I decided I would not need them,
The car keys are in the lasagna,
my spleen in the microwave,
the cat, the particle accelerator.
My finger’s almost in the socket.
Only tonight do I begin
to understand you.
And why our legs flow together
and are pinned to the earth.
When the statuary in Jessica Serran and Eleanor Johnson’s collaborative work speaks (and it does), its disarticulated voices are "sick with reference." "Oh, the agony of address," says Johnson, "does anyone else feel this weary / thisness?" The reader feels in these articulations an economy of desiderata: knees, braids, claws, teeth, sheep, snakes, and at least one iguanodon. But the exchange between image and word values deliberation over excess, inspiring a range of attention that manages winningly to associate a striped sock with a "centaur’s knee ... moving through space" in the slowest of forms, the frieze. Is this a good thing? I think so, sympathizing as I do with the exhausted tourist caught "between graphic space and lyrical time" everywhere in life. Compositionally far from the rubble of past or future, Serran and Johnson’s combo of acute arrangement and tonic selection exhort the reader to be a reader (with a sense of humor) in the especially peculiar and difficult present.
Eleanor Johnson is a scholar of medieval literature and poetics at Columbia University; she studies the formal and theoretical relationships between prose and poetry, and how those two forms operate individually and occasionally join forces to create self-consciously transformative works. Her other poetry publications include The Dwell (Scrambler Books, 2009), and selected publications on shampoopoetry.com
Jessica Serran’s work examines the intersecting points between personal and collective experience and the lines we draw between our public and private selves. Drawing and mark-making are central to this examination. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Serran earned a Bachelor’s degree in Illustration from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI before moving to California for a Master’s degree in Transformative Arts from John F. Kennedy University. Her work has been exhibited within the U.S, Canada, and most recently the Czech Republic. She has received grants and awards from the Ontario Arts Council and the California Institute of Integral Studies, and she has lectured on art and transformation, community collaboration, and the role of the audience in contemporary art. She has been found doing her social interventions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Eastern Europe. More of her work can be found at jessicaserran.com.