At first glance, “Certainty” trusts itself, moving forward in the deceptive safety of sentences. In spare, straight-forward language, Lim reports on Edward Taylor’s dispatches from the wilds of colonial America. This approach unspools, turns slant: “Sometimes,” Lim writes, “a conceit makes itself necessary in the safety of the impasse between word and world.” The poem invites us to look at its guts, how it makes and unmakes both Lim and Taylor’s certainties, acknowledging the shared pretense that language tames the world. Its lines become more ecstatic, borrowing Taylor’s pre-Romantic Oh!s, his soaring and Sweet melody to reimagine a “strange and riotous interior, through which...nameless things fly.” “Certainty” obsessively confronts the limitations of language, even of its own language, struggling to map a past wilderness onto the wilds of the speaker’s interiority. “The wilderness: I cannot get around the back of it,” the poem laments, and I along with it.
Kristen Evans is a graduate of the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her first collection, Mammal Room, is forthcoming from SpringGun Press this month.
She works at 826 Boston as the Development & Communications Associate.