Plain cream cover with black letteringkinscapes, Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig

Dreich Slims, 2022    £5.00

Every stone

The first full line of this pamphlet is ‘I arrive, yet every stone in every pavement hugs my steps’. It’s a curious start, in a poem called, intriguingly ‘encountering edina — palingenesis’. It’s that up-closeness I want to focus on — of those stones ‘in every pavement’.

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig has this way of looking — as though through her microscope, or maybe, sometimes, telescope, or even both at once! ‘Variations on a dreaming sea’ starts:

stars like molecules
mingling, a small galaxy,
the sea: a petri dish

The effect isn’t distancing, for me: there’s real emotional material couched in these poems. ‘It is so common’ I found especially moving:

     Our hearts, our hands were ready to protect, we
photographed the test, but did not share the news,
not yet: tread softly, do not scare the little soul away.

‘Tobi’s tales’ is another poem I found tender. And, again, here, there’s that up-closeness (which is perhaps how dogs do experience the world around them? Tobi is a dog):

Each patch of grass, each leaf and stem
hold so much information.

The poem ‘promise’ explores ‘a place   where roots and / leaves   birth soothing   moving   shade’. And ‘cherry’ has:

shiny blacks of bird among the
sweet red fruity flesh

This poem also ends, quite daringly, mid-word: ‘quie-’. As though the thing she’s looking at has butted out of the side of her lens.

Similarly, I like the form on the page of ‘underneath’ — and, indeed, the use of lower case throughout this collection. This unpunctuated poem, which therefore starts and ends on a lower-case letter, looks and feels like a fragment caught on a lens, to me. Here’s how it starts, with all its alliteration and assonance holding it together:

scraping of wood words on painted ice
pucks sticks skates and spinning tops

This poem ends, perhaps tellingly, in relation to this poet’s technique and concerns:

fish mumble unafraid yet not secure
soft mouths open wide look up as if
their gaze could meet that of the birds
above who also risk their life to survive

Charlotte Gann