Reviewed by Kristen Stone, poetry editor
this book is this book is. “This book is for somebody/True. It’s for someone exactly like/You” (35)
the blurb on the cover of Mercury says: “these interlocking works speak to the substance and essence of what is said, transmitted, transacted, ‘communicated’ between persons. Reines proposes that substance and essence are opposites, and explores this in contexts including commercial cinema, the nation-state, currency, alchemy, and internet porn.”
I’m really glad it said that because I was feeling completely unable to describe: the intense sensations of longing and loss/ desire destruction loneliness that reading Mercury made me feel. So I tried to read it to my partner but she fell asleep. On our sagging red couch, my hand tingling from the dead weight of her blonde skull on my shoulder, I read on and on, past when her poetry appreciation noises dropped off, for the ache it gave me to say these words over, for reading certain poetries aloud is a form of incantation, right.
“quiet/As a belly/Button or anything else/Medium/Rare” (5)
“i want to love myself by what I desire/The way you do, instead of seeing/How aspects of myself could be rendered/Other than what they seem when they weigh on me” (17)
The feminine or the woman. The girl/speaker as meat. An object, speaking. Is meat always a form of objectification. How far does meat extend as a symbol or metaphor, and where does it break down? I think of reading Luce Irigaray on a study abroad program, drunk all the time, cold, wearing a second hand pleather coat, in love with all these girls and sort of grossed out by Irigaray’s essentialism but also swept up, in a certain way, by the ending, its dreamy climax, (is psychoanalysis allowed to have a climax?): it was so indecent. Vulgar and indiscreet. The girl (animal) goes through cycles of privacy, pressure, overshare, and shame. Repeat as needed. Don’t tell me that. or: I don’t want to hear about that.
[like the sex columns in cosmo i read in the bathroom of a friend’s house in middle school, reading fast and shameful, white tile all around, a house like a science lab, it made me feel hysterical: people do this. There is another way of speaking.]
On my way home I left the pleather coat on the bathroom floor in London’s Heathrow airport, on purpose, I abandoned it.
Schooled in discretion, the idea that one could speak or write the vulgar, made me feel strange and deprived, hungry.
The classic critique of porn, right, is that women are made into ojects/made into meat. I mean, hegemonic culture. I mean, second wave feminism. Is meat always an object, a thing rendered, a thing cut into cuts, the breakdown of an animal into its component parts? In Mercury, Reines complicates this relationship with a speaker who desires to be obliterated. But the desire and the act will never match up perfectly. Can the girl/woman who wishes to be obliterated ever feel: satisfied? That is filthy. Sex is icky. Don’t tell me that. Is Ariana Reines speaking as the object? The object wants to be a subject, but also wants to be destroyed. “…my heart/Swells with love for what cannot/Respond” (28)
The mystery of life is: “if I weren’t so scared of life I wouldn’t be here”(17). The mystery of life is: “I’ve got secrets/I wouldn’t know how to tell if i wanted to. I crossed/My heart for the things that rip me to shreds in this world” (35)
A devastating, hideous, haunting book, you must read Mercury.