I have a fondness for the overlooked and easily abandoned, things that seemingly have no use or appear to be limited in their use or have the misfortune of being in the company of people with no imagination. I suspect Lorna Crozier shares this fondness because The Book of Marvels is dedicated to exactly that… the easily overlooked, the rarely if ever thought about, things that are right there, like air and eggs, ironing boards, crowbars, darkness and the brain… “The brain thinking about itself is thinking about the brain thinking. The brain not thinking about itself is thinking about the brain not thinking.”
I could just stop right there and mull that over for half a day.
But I’m compelled to read on, to savour the next bite-sized morsel, one more beautifully presented, poetic prosey observation about something I’ve never thought of in quite the way I’m reading it here. I make my way through the book like it’s a bar of 85% chocolate.
About the sky… “The sky is a blouse snatched from the back of a woman. No. The sky is a muddle of clouds that won’t sit still in the lecture hall. No…”
And then I look up at the sky and ask is it a blouse? Yes of course! And no.
About a clothes hanger, Crozier points out the “cryptic punctuation mark”, the “?” atop the ‘shoulders’ of the wire or plastic or wooden frame, shoulders that are hidden by clothes but the “?” is always visible, creating within our closets a row of “?????????????”… that “bring to your attention …the multitude of questions whose answers you don’t know.”
She refers to feet as our “nethermost telluric twins” and I’ve learned a new word. And then she goes on to reflect on the moment of their first walking out of prehistoric waters “… our spines straightening, our gills slamming shut, the salt on our skin crusting in the dry air, our hands astonished into being hands and not another pair of feet.”
The hinges of a bird’s wings, the way one word hinges on another… how this is where poetry begins.
The pointlessness of an ear lobe.
The way a stone is “… a clock whose face you can’t read.”
The book is small. The marvels take up no more than a page each, a short paragraph or two. They are listed alphabetically. The only item under ‘O’ is ‘Objects’ in which Crozier quotes William Matthews who said “… if an object fails to interest us, it’s not its fault but our own.”
Couldn’t agree more. The Book of Marvels is rich with the fruit of paying attention to connections, to the minutia that surrounds us, the frippery that has nothing yet everything to do with how we live. It’s a book that changes how you look at a flashlight, an eraser or a doorknob.
And isn’t that just so refreshing?
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