The fragment poetry of Mariel Glass devotes itself to the theme of inevitability – to death, dreams, pain, and beauty – the things that burn at the core of life. It consumes us in its lyricism; it moves us by forcing us to ask whether we ever had a starting point from which to move. Poem #25: “You do not end with death you continue through it: you pass through that negation itself, you are digested by it.
Glass absorbs us in a stream of thought that is unfamiliar and intimate – a place in flux between light and dark, origin and infinity. As readers, we are baffled by our almost-understanding of Glass. We desire the quiet that Glass sees; we marvel at her solitudes to which she as led us without fuss or bombast.
The Book of Consumption selections are without titles. They range from the tranquil interiors of poem #25, to the simplicity of poem #102. Each piece, numbered (mechanically, perhaps) enlivens Glass’s sense of transition. We move from one moment of her mind to the next; we glimpse the full range of her poetic experience without the distraction or tyranny of titles. Glass seeks transcendence not in words but in a language – Poem #25: “I am not afraid: my language is accurate, it describes it… You do not end with death you continue through it.”
In Notes from the Lighthouse, Glass’s language is tinged with a sense of the foreboding. The Lighthouse poems here excerpted are taken from a larger manuscript, the whole of which forms something of an anti-story as Glass’s fragmentation intertwines evocative imagery, memory, loss, longing, and little shards of narrative. These Lighthouse poems are at once abstract and simple, stark and earnest.
Reading these selections together, Glass’s poetic outlook imparts a sense of looking simultaneously backward and forward in time. But Glass’s work does more than probe the supposition that “the way forward is the way back.” Her work demands that we look up and down in time, that we acknowledge the infinities that engulf us and affirm the groundlessness with which we stand in time. As we live toward these infinities, we discover that insight is nothing more than a process by which we reveal the lighter and darker parts of our Selves. From Consumption; “And, like a pearl, a bead drops suddenly from a string: I drop through the plume of silence into what I was.”
In its essence, Glass’s poetry reminds us that we are fundamentally poetic beings. We cannot escape this fate – not even through “half-heard songs and a loneliness from far away.”