It is a privilege to introduce this new hybrid text by Cecilia Woloch. I’ve long admired her body of work for its gratifying complexity, particularly when considering the way her narrators inhabit time. In Woloch’s skilled hands, history becomes recursive, circular, elliptical. Her innovative, undoubtedly philosophical poems allow wildly divergent narrative possibilities to exist in the same rhetorical space, creating friction as they collide, interact, and eventually become wholly intertwined.
What’s more, this conversation – between narratives, between histories, and between realities – happens because Woloch is courageous enough to question the very beliefs that lend order and structure to our experiences. When reading her books, one is reminded of just how many possibilities lie at the periphery of our awareness, at the limits of our willingness to comprehend and express.
This new poem offers a subtle, but provocative, variation on her earlier depictions of time as layered, palimpsestic. Here, we travel from the “costume jewelry, lipsticks,” and “lacy underpants” of girlhood backward, to a world before the narrator’s birth. “You were a cinder in my sister’s palm,” Woloch explains. It is this light that allows us to see in all directions, in spite of the surrounding dark.