Page

by Rae Gouirand

What did the world first suggest? Snow
filled the street, erased the curbs. Made whiteness

of other houses. Usually silent neighbors
spoke easily of common problems. It might as well

have risen from the ground—snow came
to meet the planes of my hands, confirmed them

as they paused. It wasn’t the sky that proved
something—it was the snow. With it came a new

seeing. Things showed. Enlarged, undeniable.
If all the world’s quiet could still that street where

houses numbered one another next to mine,
I might understand. I was four.

Rae Gouirand’s first collection of poetry, Open Winter, was selected by Elaine Equi for the 2011 Bellday Prize, won a 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award and the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award, and was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, the Audre Lorde Award, and the California Book Award for poetry. Her new work has appeared most recently in American Poetry Review, VOLT, The Brooklyner, The Rumpus, New South, Hobart, ZYZZYVA, The California Journal of Poetics, Barrow Street, The Hat, and in a Distinguished Poet feature for The Inflectionist Review. An upcoming (Fall 2014) guest editor for OCHO: A Journal of Queer Arts, Gouirand has founded numerous community workshops in poetry and prose online and throughout California’s Central Valley and served as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at UC-Davis. (allonehum.wordpress.com)

What can you tell us about “Page”—from initiating idea to final product—that might reveal all its secrets?

    The first version of this poem had a few more words in it. Not too many. With this piece I wanted to recreate something of that strange way that snow fills up space while simultaneously emptying out the air it’s falling through. It feels to me like language has a similar effect on the page, though I didn’t imagine the piece to enforce a kind of direct comparison between those two planes. I think of this as a poem about engagement, and how it is that we are engaged. This piece sits toward the end of the manuscript for a collection I’ve just completed (called ‘Tenor and Vehicle’) that is all about relationships, often viewed through the lens of what kinds of crises language creates or reflects back at us at different moments in their trajectories. This poem is a quiet little solo moment—a rare one in that collection—and about as close to conversational in tone as my voice gets on the page. That’s important to it, too. In my work I’m kind of always studying where it is that ‘voice’ and the impulse to speak come from.
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