Take 2: Peculiar Anatomy of Self in Sally Rosen Kindred’s Says the Forest to the Girl
review & visual by Jessica Lynn Suchon
Sally Rosen Kindred’s chapbook Says the Forest to the Girl “starts in the throat.” Kindred molds the uncertainty of a body into an intricate mythos where illness casts its shadow in every poem, always ready to attack: a potential diagnosis of lupus; a wolf that always looms inside the speaker. Despite this constant threat, the speaker’s interior is lush with magic and possibility. As the speaker wrestles with her physicality and limitations, she reaches for new territories, saying, “No one ever told / me a story / where the woman’s / body, mean and squinting, gets / stronger.”
Throughout the book, Kindred takes the self and grows it into an entire world, fleshing out the fable of, not only the body, but the speaker who inhabits it. She explores the body as it exists in the present, but also delves into how it came to be.
The poems scrutinize legacy and origin as Kindred’s speaker interrogates what parts of herself are truly hers and what is part of a more complicated inheritance passed down by her mother. The opening poem, “Woman at a Crow’s Funeral,” prompts that “The crows won’t ask / what kind of daughter you are.” The crows may not ask, but the speaker finds herself asking again and again what kind of daughter she is. She constantly turns away from her mother only to find her again, knowing “there is always a witch standing there / She’s Mother: / one thing my mouth cannot change.”
Here, using Kindred’s words, I’ve altered an anatomical chart to explore the peculiar anatomy in which the self, with all of its history and hope, coexists with its potential for destruction.
Read last week’s Take 1 on the act of speech in Kindred’s book.
Jessica Lynn Suchon is the author of Scavenger, winner of the 2018 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest and forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Willow Springs, Yemassee, Muzzle Magazine, and RHINO Poetry, among others. Her librettos have appeared or are forthcoming in works by Stephanie Ann Boyd for the Eureka Ensemble, EKMELES vocal ensemble, Æpex Contemporary Performance with the Dark Sky Project.