A filmstrip. Its edges gnawed, frayed. The white static hiss in the frame. Image after image. When I read Laura Kasischke, I’m in a dark theater watching strips of film leap, sometimes associatively, from image to image, sensation to sensation. I fill in the gaps. Or don’t. Her poetry finds that space between dream and real, between memory and the present. In Laura Kasischke’s “Near Misses” we’re presented with such a leaping through and across time, here with a central narrative core, as the poet wonders how miraculous it is to navigate through our days, fraught with dangers as life is: so many errant arrows flung at us. So we appreciate what we have, what is before us, what is simple, and miraculous. Where we are, for now, safe.
The truck that swerved to miss the stroller in which I slept.
My mother turning from the laundry basket just in time to see me open the third-story window to call to the cat.
In the car, on ice, something spinning and made of history snatched me back from the guardrail and set me down between two gentle trees. And that time I thought to look both ways on the one-way street.
And when the doorbell rang, and I didn’t answer, and just before I slipped one night into a drunken dream, I remembered to blow out the candle burning on the table beside me.
It’s a miracle, I tell you, this middle-aged woman scanning the cans on the grocery store shelf. Hidden in the works of a mysterious clock are her many deaths, and yet the whole world is piled up before her on a banquet table again today. The timer, broken. The sunset smeared across the horizon in the girlish cursive of the ocean, Forever, For You.
And still she can offer only her body as proof:
The way it moves a little slower every day. And the cells, ticking away. A crow pecking at a sweater. The last hour waiting patiently on a tray for her somewhere in the future. The spoon slipping quietly into the beautiful soup.