“Anatomy”, said Freud, “is destiny” and in Sara Eliza Johnson’s Bone Map find solution to our quandary. Never broken by our weakened flesh “to feel the sky inhale” we but roam towards the forest where “our words” can “part the water”.
Or, are bustled worlds of urban life the mania preferred? For those of us who pulled towards metropolis, the rapid ways of life in Bone Map marks the spot. Where “the city tastes of blood” she writes a guiding sketch to work. Is our inkling towards the hustle called the urban way-of-life a fruitless need for action? Where might “scent of cold and earth” mean evidence of life?
Is that manic pace of life a need? Sought existence comes as running brutes who leave “snow to rise around them”. She has written barking madness here: the dogs are crazy working. Mark the power of the other and witness the disorder.
In “Archipelago: Tabula Rasa,” a stunner of a work in her Bone Map, Johnson asks what purpose these journeys hold. ”Unhook your body” she urges us, so fearful of “its vastness”. We are students to our mortal flesh, she knows, but offers us her tutelage. Read “Instructions on Wintering on the Ice Field” to learn steps to make it work. “Work your hands often, she writes”, and if wondering why, she says “they will swell purple”. Here is lyric made as medicine: both supplement and mending tool.
“We endure no suffering” she writes, as listening through the fog she hears “these miracles” which “drag” her “eye”. She is watcher writing testament. Combing deeper through our puzzle, find in forests and a bounty’s trees assemblages of learning. “The owl releases a boneless cry” bound by trees, “each chamber is lit clean”. We are “labyrinth through the tongue” and trace anatomy of growth.
Though not spoiled here, I’ll warn you, reader, that an answer lurks inside this book. Read her carefully and the work is done, one finds answers in her lines. Indeed, Bone Map does have focus and a keenly wrought direction. “I see the swell of darkness,” she says, with “my hands so small inside it.” “Do you understand me?” she writes, asking us, as if we knew, to verify her clarity. Take her outward, go, “a swaying stalk of purpling blossoms”; spotting hyacinths and “deers long dead.”
Is this destiny you speak of, Freud, a burden to endure? Sara Eliza Johnson seems empowered in her Bone Map and keen to document the gift. Of its virtues mark the “molecules magnified”, the “marrow cloak of light”. No more human than “the bodies” which she tells us “break” “the earth around us in their coming”. We collectively form a greater strength defiant of the destined life.
One reads guidance in Sara Eliza Johnson’s Bone Map and her cryptic aptitude. In “How the World Was Made” she writes of numerous anatomies: “of the world” and “sleeping eye”; “anatomy of the prayer” and “sea before the land”. And yet not the map of flesh we seek, these diagrams provide us with a fragmentary feel for self. Are these models to pursue our truth? No matter where you read her seek, by Bone Map hers or yours, a greater sense of risk/reward and confident reminder that the deeper woods await.
JW Mark is a poet living in Ohio. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publications. His current goals are to secure a publisher for a collection of his work. He is the author of a novel, entitled Artifice, as well as a book of poems entitled Patched Collective and can be contacted at jwmarkmail [at] gmail.com or via his website http://jwmark.wordpress.com/