Review by Daniel Warner
Gravity is stars falling from the ceiling. Gravity is two bodies in orbit, constantly repelling and colliding regardless of intent, regardless of time. Gravity is what you deserve and what you desire reacting and retreating due to forces beyond your control.
Reading this chapbook you will feel the pull of gravity through each page flip to the end, which is a new beginning. Bright stars in the dim dark will light your way until they fall off the plaster ceiling. A speaker will wear a dress of blood, fingers will function as razor blades, cars will collide with memory, and despite best intentions, the wrong person’s hands will pull across years straight through to a “little lamb heart.” Gravity documents the push-and-pull anguish of an off-and-on relationship through a set of images that evolve as the relationship moves from a reality to a memory.
Schmidt chronicles many memories throughout the collection and returns to the image of a car crash in particular, beginning with one involving her best friend in “Striking Pavement” and eventually embodying the relationship into the image in “Breathing Patterns.” Cars later even become a place of safety in “No” and “The Impermanence of Stars.”
The speaker of the poems moves from self-deprecation in earlier poems in the form of statements like “I’m easy to replace” and “I needed you like hours/need minutes” to a place of self-empowerment in “I Wish I Had Listened” with, after years of returning to a smoldering relationship, the Plath-y declaration “You, boy/are not good enough for me.”
There is the vast night full of real stars, and there are stars we recreate in our own rooms over and over until the adhesive no longer sticks. “We hung our universe above our heads,” Schmidt admits, either not knowing of her relationship’s inevitable fall or fully aware of it but choosing blissful disbelief over cynicism. And this is the triumph of Gravity, the way it reveals that paradoxical humanness of returning to the things that harm us: as planets spin; as love fluxes and flows; as humans, we map our old ways onto the current way of things.
Lynne Schmidt’s chapbook broods on and chronicles the wistfulness of how we haunt ourselves with the familiar, even if it is painful. It shows how there is love even in the hateful memories—and how we hold to hate like a hand on a heart the moment before a crash. Schmidt starts with a “fuck you” to the past and ends with a yes to the “Now”.
Thank you to Daniel Warner for reviewing Gravity! Interested in reviewing our titles here on the N&S site or for your blog or other site? Join our launch team!