ditch,

the poetry that matters

Amy Dennis

Amy Dennis' poetry has appeared in more than a dozen Canadian literary publications, such as CV2, Event, Queen's Quarterly, and Prairie Fire. Most recently, Amy's poetry was nominated for a National Magazine Award and a Random House Creative Writing Award. In the fall of 2009, she moved from Burlington, Ontario to Wales, U.K., where she is completing her Ph.D. 

(RESPONSE TO) JOYCE WIELAND'S WATER QUILT

Translucent pillow
of tent caterpillars
pulled



Trumpet Lichen





Jacob’s Ladder





Arctic Lupine





Arctic Poppy





Purple Saxifrage





Arctic Thrift





Cottongrass
  


 

 

Antler Lichen





Birdfoot Buttercup





Avalance Lily





This was months ago
The nests gone
Now worms are moths



Scarlet Gilia

 
 



Alpine Arnica





Knotweed





Elegant Paintbrush






Sweet Coltsfoot

Snow Cinquefoil





from a bone-
dry tree equals a piece of Weiland’s
sheer muslin

 

Blue Grass





The webbed nest
wriggles
insect-dyslexic

 


Horsetail





Marsh Felwort





Arctic Chickweed





Salix Willow






window in
to the embroidered
scrim and then listened

 

Lagotis





Lungwort





Harebell


 
 



Forget-Me-Not





Northern Shooting Star





Phlox





Wild Iris






Chocolate Lily

Lousewort





Jewel Lichen





Northern Primrose


 

Rock-Jasmine






Seashore Chamomile





and I can’t read
Laxer’s warnings
of squandered water

 

Silvery Oxytrope





so with tea-cup
poised fingers I rip
a delicate square

Crowberry



Bluebells





Prickly Rose





Alpine Speedwell





Pasque Flower






Triangular Leafed Fleebane





Alpine Bearberry

 



She knew
the future: dust
on every wing



Fernweed





Joyce Wieland's Water Quilt may be viewed here: http://www.ccca.ca/history/isaacs/isaacs_seen/works/pages/14_quilt.html

Joyce Wieland (Canadian, 1931-1998)
The Water Quilt, 1970-1971
Fabric, embroidery thread, thread, metal grommets,
braided rope, ink on fabric, 121.9 x 121.9 cm
Art Gallery of Ontario, Acc. no. 66/23 OR Acc.#76/221

ON THE LISTENING HILL

 

don’t even breathe she said swear to me keep
secret what her hell-dad in her hell-house undid
how his sweat skin bittered
salt-thick don’t breathe
any of this and I listened





























her voice was trapped panic
in a sharp bone house
too small for a flying bird 

and when she couldn’t find words
her shoulders curved inward
in order to crush the wings 





























 


her misted optic stones
opal-blind

shifting never lingering on
one thing too long never
locking on


to even me              who’d seen

her re-shape with shaking
tanned hands how he moved in

the thin air she had to let in
her pink lungs 
 































i remember
an orange sweater
worn to her knees her teeth straight she
smelled clean like grapefruit and chlorine she
wasn’t me

 

ANATOMIES (CIRCA 1930)


Man
Ray
(erect).
Think of him
with the tongue, with the unexpected
eye.

A photograph fragmented. An omnipotent
dream.

He is the thick swelled vein
on the back of an amaryllis petal,
a river frozen
taut with current.

His heart in a darkroom
flashes
white.

Solarization –
a rat scampering,
overexposed.

Light
reverses
light.

Overexposed, a rat scampering.

Solarization, white flashes
her heart in a dark room
taut with current, a river frozen.

On the back of an amaryllis petal, she is
the thick swelled vein.

Dream a photograph, fragmented.
An omnipotent eye.
With the tongue, with the unexpected, think

of her. Lee
Miller (neck).

The poem ANATOMIES (CIRCA 1930) responds to Man Ray’s photograph Anatomies, c. 1930.

The reference to solarization as “a rat scampering” is explained below.  It is still debated whether Lee Miller or Man Ray deserve the credit for discovering solarization.

In the various interviews she did many years later, Lee Miller claimed she was working in Man Ray’s darkroom developing some negatives when a rat ran over her foot. She screamed and turned on the light. Man Ray immediately turned it off, and in an attempt to save the negative, dumped them in the fixer. To their surprise they found that a clear line surrounded the figure of the nude on the negative. The effect delighted Man Ray who then had to set about learn all he could from this lucky accident so he could replicate it at will. Lee Miller, who worked very closely with Man Ray, also used the technique in her own work, which became a hallmark of their artistic association.
                                                                                --
Anthony Penrose, Lee Miller Archive (online)

                                                               http://www.leemiller.co.uk/index.html

Man Ray's photograph Anatomies may be viewed here: http://www.usc.edu/schools/annenberg/asc/projects/comm544/library/images/328.html

                                                        (WE'RE) ALMOST TOUCHING



milk spilled                                          your skin sun burned a blank canvas
white tea         puddled                                   wrist weakened again
with milk
                                                                                    liquid drop liquid skin fixed
                                                                        casein arrests pigment shellfish seeping
                                                                                                body’s


                                                                                    memory: safe bloody cave

 

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