by Sandra Marchetti
Press: Sundress Publications
82 pages, paper
Reviewed by: Danielle Susi
In Sandra Marchetti’s debut full-length collection, Confluence, the running of cool water is ever-present for the reader in the reappearance of the color blue: “Soft bulbs of morpho blue” in the collection’s opening poem “Never-Ending Birds,” and again in “The Return,” where Marchetti writes “Beyond the body itself / is the thin blue line / the sky folding back on its spine” (1-3).
Confluence: defined as the junction of two rivers, especially two rivers of equivalent width. The intention being two rapidly moving components joining as one. The flow and fluidity just as critical as the marrying of the two elements. So many streams and rivers are at hand in this collection, but so too is ice, or what can be assumed to be the frozen halt of quickly-moving waters, and perhaps the interruption of confluence. In “The Language of Ice,” she writes:
Jagged as glass, ice flashes
match memories of church windows, a glacial past.
Lines of a pencil afloat mark a bobbing post,
bags beneath drift, seek their currents like fish. (3-6)
While the collection often acts as an accumulation of the same pastoral scene reimagined, Confluence is punctuated by poems that are generous to their reader in the subtle emotional intensity. Poems like “Music” and “Lattice,” are refreshing, as we are suddenly able to imagine the speaker as capable of intimately interacting with others. One could consider the first section of the collection as a type of foreplay, a gradual building as “Music,” placed about halfway through the collection, holds the passion and sexual energy the book has been asking for. “Lattice,” too, allows the reader to see some of the fear in the speaker as she dreams of her dissolving wedding ring:
Confluence is the joining of streams, but of also two bodies—not only the bodies of two lovers, but the bodies of potential mother and seemingly lost or longed-for child. In “Migration Theory” Marchetti begins, “The womb a tent, / lit from within, flutters / golden on the wind” (1-3). The emptiness of that tent further accentuated by later lines, “I’m told the child / is ghost…” (9-10). It is in these poems of loss or desperation that the reader can finally move deeper into the landscapes that Marchetti has been painting.
Danielle Susi is the author of the chapbook The Month in Which We Are Born (dancing girl press, 2015). She is a columnist for Entropy, the co-editor of HOUND, and the Programming and Media Coordinator for the Poetry Center of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Knee-Jerk Magazine, Hobart, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Newcity has named her among the Top 5 Emerging Chicago Poets. Find her online at daniellesusi.com.