“Having deluded our love into existence.”
In this spare and sharply observed collection of poems is the essence of a human story: what transpires when, despite all reason, we love someone who makes it difficult to love them.
Like all stories, this one happens to a particular person at a particular time. In this case, contemporary urban Australia with its “metal mimicking ocean / wash after relentless wash of cars.” Some readers may recognise the specificity of Australia’s smells, songs and cutlery, the ambivalence of its countrymen’s feeling for the place. Others may recognise a more collective truth: all our experiences inevitably become the measure of our selves.
What Jackson brings to this universal experience is a particular feminine intellect that cleans, sharpens and neatly stores decisions and understanding to revel how and what love inscribes on our lives – “remove the necrotic flesh with the scalpel of dejection / leave only open wound – we will heal beautifully.”
The imagery is a shocking and sometimes bleakly humorous mixture of the intimacies of blood and drink with the detachment of words and memories – perhaps most of all the final detachment of writing itself. As Dickinson, another precise poet of female experience, put it: “How much can come / And much can go, And yet abide the world!”
“A Leaving reads like a photograph taken before the body cools, a state of undress few poets expose. “Suitable for mature audiences”, this is poetry of short direct imagery and sharp intakes of breath, often startling intimacy from within its detached frame” – David Stavanger, author of The Special.