The Plum-Stone Game
by Kathleen Jesme
Ahsahta Press 2009
The pineal gland is an organ in the brain said to be the seat of insight, spirit, intuition, the mystic’s ‘house of the third eye.’ Sadly it is also said to calcify over time. Various strategies are suggested to open the pineal gland, to strengthen and purify this mysterious center of the mind. Rituals may entail various breathing practices, meditation, and a variety of other methods all purported to promote a cleansing of this sacred gland and open intuitive channels. Nowhere have I read that poetry, either in reading, listening nor writing is a pathway to opening the pineal gland as means of spiritual purification, but surely, upon reading Katherine Jesme’s The Plume-Stone Game, this book should be added to the list of detoxification options for promoting good psychic health. Jesme’s The Plume-Stone Game is a glass of soothed milk, placed to the reader’s lips, which once swallowed opens into the wonder of that ‘other world’ as a light both dividing the two hemispheres of the brain and simultaneously bridging the functions of the mind and the body: “She is like an animal, all desire—without language to staunch it//but she can’t tell that her kind are different…” Kathleen Jesme lays out the content of darkness, and will not go away into dark.
The book settles into four sections, but this is an understatement. The book swings as if through a revolving door, examining the three dimensional hologram of the lung’s interior chambers where, from a deeply dealt breath, a voices rises into the language of a fierce and distant new country. The sections unfold, archeologically, as if detailing the examinations of consciousness from the dirt inscribed under the fingernails, into the umbel blossoming of a multi-layered landscape. “Shall we examine betrayal? The small lesions on the skin that begin as ordinary…” Nothing in The Plum-Stone Game is ordinary. A reader is left to follow a pocket watch to which time will not be obedient. The hours, a relentless beauty, page after page, begin in the prose of saints, moving through sinuous lyric, cataloging the relics of a found ethnography and returning again to prose. Her movements are subtle, sparse, languid, as startling as the arrival of desert songbirds, pallid in the snow sun, those whose messages are carried alone through red hibiscus. Into the ear, the intimate distance of stars, sawdust, flecked notes.
Reader, as you move thorough The Plum-Stone Game, perhaps you will be reminded of an ancient self, what has been lost to you may return, as an exhibit, a shattered teacup glued back together. Jesme explores the synthesis of a dual body: “opens her mouth and feels my throat…” where the throat of my throat is swallowed deep into the limit of what eternal wild awakening, limitless and needle-sharp.
--Review by Maureen Alsop
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