19 December 2002

On ) locus TIDES ((, by Mary Rising Higgins

due out very soon from Potes & Poets Press

In certain activities one thing gives way to another that is, in some ways, derived from the first, but seems nevertheless unexpected. Think of cooking something until suddenly, it caramelizes; think of sex, where effort gives in to absolute numbness that is truly the simultaneity of unfathomable sensations; think of linear acceleration, where precise calculation, specificity, and speed lead to what is open and unpredictable. This is the poetry of Mary Higgins — its subject, its process, its being. In poem after poem (most from 8 to 10 pages in length) of ) locus TIDES (( Higgins accumulates words, notations, sensations, objects, with a specificity that makes us consider them as hard-edged artifacts,

lotus hook weight rail
shuttle stone wave pole (from “forest detail / fire points”)

made into language with a speed and skill that astonishes throughout. But nearly always, this processual, sometimes mathematical acceleration reaches a point, not of conclusion, but of release.

reverse swash
charmed quarks
practicing why (from “forest detail / fire points”)

The exacting logos disperses into a spacious undefined infinity. The procedure of exactitude unto breaking, of inevitable release into negative capability, occurs whether looking outward into world or inward into self.

mask resonance dictee build the
interrupting I ,charnel voice black dress stack tower
a becoming struggle (from “an index of i”)

Yet self and world ultimately collapse into the same dispersed essence. This essence, however, is never still or stable; it can not be contained in a “heart chained pentameter collar,” but it can be enunciated, it can speak, specify, twist, build, not quite randomly, “until the entire body releases to parallel blur contradiction accommodates” (from “parentheses / after”).

What Higgins’s quantum process provides for readers is an edge-of-seat excitement that simultaneously holds one enthralled in the myriad details of experience, and frees one to soar into a bigger picture with a personal release of mind that the reading allows, even makes necessary.

I treasure certain experiences that leave me dazed and confused, but knowing or feeling more than I had previously — first attempt to hold a breath toward impossibility; first experience of love, sex, death; first attempt to understand relativity theory; arrival at a new and creative geometric proof of a theorem; the reading of Mary Rising Higgins’s ) locus TIDES ((.


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