Review of Sophie Klahr's Meet Me Here at Dawn (YesYes Books, 2016)

After reading Sophie Klahr’s Meet Me Here at Dawn

by Rachel Mennies

[all text excerpted in the original book appears in italics]

an early poem named dare          say when:          its border learned only by crossing it

here Chicago     New York     Orlando     Miami         in each room only the speaker and her lover        

I walk through the paid rooms (vols I/II/III)          each full of pocket mints     lotion     matchbooks     the paper bag of cash          personal effects that, if left behind, successfully identify nobody

(here is never the lover’s wife       I never see her face)

I greet the erotic with a hand in the dirt          After sex sometimes, there is blood on the sheets          the erotic with a hand in the air          Night comes down / through the trees, cups my face / upwards—          I pause in the dark         where both sex and prayer begin with clasping fingers

          To consider: I loved a hive of light
To consider: I came when he bit my palm

this book wishes me to pray         how the speaker asks whose hand is whose         how she lies beside another body         disappears with your piece of God

and reappears in the unavoidable illumination of aftermath          the sun rising through dawn blinds in each paid room          light in the airport, trembling back         

light on the brother whose life snapped back, a bough pulled down then released          light on the father holding the speaker for the first time, a baby         

(that is a mailbox he tells her          that is a tree)

Klahr’s line expands and contracts from poem to poem         a song hummed into different jars          then unscrewed

after leaving the paid rooms for good           the speaker trades rhetorical positioning          if morality has a fiber to it could it heal itself?        for the windows opening wide         it is the fifth year of our affair          for the lights turned on          what have we brought forth?        

across its brightened threshold she brings a bride wading into a pool         

I never see her face

I look away the first time I read the word wife          as if I’d walked uninvited into the poem (a bedroom          with the door ajar)          I’ve been trying not to mention your marriage but they say a gun onstage          must go off                    

each time after          I do not look away

I set out to review Meet Me Here at Dawn in a more traditional format and, as I do with any book I'm (re)reading with the intention of reviewing, I took weird, shorthanded notes in the margins. As I read Klahr's bookin particular, as the speaker's important troubling of the boundaries between intimacy, eroticism, and loss grabbed meI looked over my notes and realized they'd crystallized into a sort of poem themselves. I offer up this creative response, based partly on those margin notes, entirely at the altar of the original book: a rendering done in gratitude for having read it.

Rachel Mennies is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, the 2014 winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry and finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, and the chapbook No Silence in the Fields. She teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of AGNI’s editorial staff.