Swirl — Constance Bacchus ( Spring 2021)
When the big machines of publicity publishing were put on public health hiatus, the ensuing space opened a channel for other voices.
Devoted readers discovered hitherto unseen landscapes filled with vibrant voices. So it is with Constance Bacchus’ chapbook Swirl. Published via Kindle, this lovely volume features 14 poems United in topic, creating a connective sequence that can be read as a whole. While each poem has a title, they might also be viewed as chapters, or moments in an overarching perception of storms in the Pacific Northwest.
Bacchus’ poems are subtle, adept and elegant: this is especially evident in the poems
“the wind has started
/oh she is”(10) and “do you have rain today or wish you did”(12).
In “the wind […]”, Bacchus employs the forward slash mid line, so that the reader gets a sense of slowed time, of physical perception in space:
“walk to the water/
one ear looking up
&the other just alkaline/
polite, listen, soft”(10)
The reader absorbs the synesthesia as a whole body perception that is reinforced by the assonance of walk, water and alkaline, as well of that of one, looking, other, polite, soft. There’s a sense of meditation in these poems, of unity with the elements. In “do you have rain today […]”, Bacchus uses a double column in the poem, which immediately offers multiple ways of reading the poem in sequence—across or in columns. Reading the poem both across and in columns reveals multiple perceptions, and allows the reader to experience this seemingly prosaic event in multiple ways—as if the poem insists on a whole presence, a thorough soaking.
One line, “does the ocean even know love w/care” is especially multi-directional, as the left column gives an urban image with silence or a pause from the column on the right. Bacchus’ construction in these poems is both sophisticated and charming. The poems give a full presence and observation to what many might overlook. The devoted reader of poetry ought not to overlook this lovely and quenching book.