The Woman Who Cries Speaks is the second short book in the second volume of the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series. Patricia Staton‘s long, irregular lines snake down the page in all but the two prose poems in this collection. These are poems composed, like a scrapbook, of memory fragments. But they are also punctuated by a direct and declamatory voice, as in the end of “We Have Our Rats”, where the speaker exclaims, after a by turns disgusting and whimsical meditation on rats, “Hey! Listen up! Nobody here’s mourning rats. / I’m shivering, frowzy, awake, but no.”
This direct, at times outlandish voice, more delicate snatches of memory, and the ragged-line form culminate in the long poem “from: Mother”, which begins:
Every night the dry stars, the tops of trees,
the moon I’m trying to paint a new face on.
Every night at my feet the tomb that holds
what needs to be aired. I am left to leaf through
everything that mattered
that you could never speak of.
It continues in this sonorous way, rich with image fragments, until the speaker interrupts herself with, “This is hard. In this version I don’t know if I hope you hear me or not.” And later: “Someone said it isn’t that the dead don’t listen / it’s that they no longer care.” In this way delicate memory is interrupted and confronted by a second self.
The syntax in these pieces often amplifies this scherzo. For example, Staton dangles prepositions to great effect: