In the realm of the Doll God by Luanne Castle, intention is not limited to the usual actors. Nesting dolls may choose to share Snow White's casket. The old, life-sized toddler doll, denied a little girl's ability to say "No," may force the beholder to read her history in chill, stony eyes ("See how it was for me, my history"). In "A Bone Elegy," a poem that refers to surgery on a "ravenous tumor" on the foot of the poet, a mother's voice is "a clothesline/heavy with soggy laundry" as the poet remembers a visit to the shore, where "the wind stirring up/ the waves/ goosebumped my arms." Dolls and their homes, and the objects in those homes, challenge the reader to examine the transcendent issues of love, loss, beauty, presence, absence ("because absence has its variations").
"God's toolbox begets stained glass," she says, hinting at both beauty and danger. You will "see the sky's floor crack open in one poem; in another, the sky is "so blue it hisses." Even the peace of a mother knitting in golden lamplight while listening to Nancy Wilson is transient, as a girl, "whose blood is "buzzing through/ its gridded network," well knows: "Anything could unbalance it./ An extra star in tomorrow's sky, rain/ or no rain/ could re-set it all."
I particularly loved the poem, "Prospective Ghost's Response to the First Duino Elegy," in which Castle tells the Master, "I am still looking for angels," and tells of possible encounters with ghosts who appear to her as sensations.
Ghost animals skirt my ankles.Rilke himself might have told her that "...the wind/ full of outer space/ gnaws at our lifted faces.." or that "...many stars lined up/ hoping you'd notice." He might have told her to show the angel "how even the wail of sorrow/ can settle purely/ into its own form..." -
I could be in love with them or their shadows.
Now, I sit on the ledge watching
terror as it creeps and insinuates
into everything that is life or the world...
- but Castle knows that, as she has created art from artifacts of childhood, and from the ancient teaching-tales of humanity. As proof, one more quote, from Snow Remembers an Old Tale:
From that other screenIn a guest post on Peeking Between the Pages, Luanne Castle recently wrote
once upon that time
a girl crawled out at night to dance
in aisles of cornfields
from Mayday to Halloween.
Because I grew up with the imaginary world of dolls, I can't see a doll that doesn't inspire me for a poem Often my imagination will transform the doll into a magical portal through which to see more of the human heart.
Need I say that I loved this book? It has everything poetry can offer, from stunning imagery and metaphors to a storyline that encompasses the search for meaning and identity.
Thank you to Serena Agusto-Cox of Poetic Book Tours and Savvy Verse and Wit for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Doll God.You can read more about the book on Ms. Castle's site, here, and read more reviews on Goodreads, here.