cover of book

A Point Is That Which Has No Part
by Liz Waldner
University of Iowa Press, 2000
Paper: 978-0-87745-702-2 | eISBN: 978-1-58729-808-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3573.A42158P65 2000
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

Liz Waldner's bold new collection takes its title and its inspiration from Definition 1 of Euclid's Elements of Geometry. Its six sections—point, line, circle, square, triangle, and point again—are explorations of various kinds of longing and loss—sex, death, exile, story, love, and time. Drawing from culture high and low—Eno and Aquinas, Lassie and Donne, Silicon Valley and Walden Pond—these poems offer proof of and proof against the “mortal right-lined circle” of memory and identity.

The innocence and Keatsian beauty of Euclid's geometry become poignant from a perspective that encompasses all that is non-Euclidean as well as space, time, and the theory of matter. With rare wit and linguistic daring, Waldner opens resonant channels of communication that show there is indeed more than meets the eye—or the mind—in her poems.

Hand to Mouth (Twist and Shout)

Cold comes slow up out
of the darkness among the leaves
that smell so good when bruised

Do you, too, recognize me
god so soon?

Her First Reckoning

Pour wine into vessels the violet of woods,
wine of the reddening stars.
You are god, you can do it.

Your lover calls you St. John the Conqueror.
I have heard her.
This is the name of a root.

Asperge the thousands and thousands of rooms
in which photosynthesis promises sun
to the acolyte cells. Rain yourself on a leaf.

Birch. The bark is malleable as mushroom flesh.
Show that you know me. Scratch out my name
with this tree. My name of trees.

On the day I arrive at the door of my death,
myself now hard to tell
from the trees that had hid it from me,

I will demand that you love me.
You made me like this.
Why did you make me like this?

Transitive, Intransitive: Extemporary Measures

Two crows above the marsh: sew.
Stitch the seventeen sleek shades of blue
to the shadow-patterned greens below.
See fit to make me a suitable view who
having nowhere to else to go
might as well wear this world well.
Llama necks periscope the view:
yonder, across the water, you
testing the air now a crow
chases a redwing blackbird through.

What can I show you who sees
I don't believe? For now,
what the eye of the needle sees:
through through through:
clouds, birds, me, trees;
soon: in, out, with, to;
something moving, something moved:
a stitch in time's an avenue,
future's sutures' revenue—
“the shining hour” improved.

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