Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon
This week, I read Marisa Crane’s Our Debatable Bodies. As the title suggests, this collection has a lot to do with societal perception of the physical body, particularly for women who love other women, and women who don’t conform to gender norms. The book is also about how the world is not yet a welcoming place for people who are LGBTQIA, and while attitudes are changing, they aren’t changed. There are still people out there who judge, and there are polarizing reactions to same-sex couples which heterosexual couples don’t ever experience.
In “A MAN AT A PARTY TELLS US HE VOTES REPUBLICAN BUT ASSURES US HE IS SOCIALLY LIBERAL,” the speaker says: “when we get home/we brush our debatable teeth/wash our debatable faces/undress our debatable bodies.” There is a dark observer, presumably the man in the title, casting a shadow over the couple’s actions, causing normal routine to feel threatened. “in bed we practice remembrance/we rub our inconsolable/legs together the melody, /an assertion/of our reality,” the speaker says. Here, the writer creates a bold statement—two people who love each other, but because they are both the same sex, their love is considered to be, as the poem says, “debatable.” The final image of the poem pulls away from this dark specter, in a sense, overcoming his discriminatory beliefs. The two women are in bed together, listening to the crickets outside. The poet fights back at that observer, banishing him. The final line is quite lovely, leaving the reader with a sense of peace and longing—“it is beautiful/just the way/elegies should be.”
This book boldly defies those who would say that this isn’t a love story—Ultimately, this book is a love story. It’s about the simple magic of living a life with the person that you’re in love with. It’s about someone living their truth, openly. Crane writes pieces that are emotionally charged and pack big punches right in the feels, like “FOR TONIGHT WE ATTEND A FERTILITY SEMINAR,” and “HOMOPHOBIA.” She balances these pieces with ones that have an enormous sense of joie de vivre and embracing of life, particularly in “UPON LISTENING TO VANCE JOY’S ‘WASTED TIME’.” The poem, “IN THIS ROBE,” particularly speaks to me. It’s quirky and comforting, and it sets a really nice opening tone for the collection.
Our Debatable Bodies is forthcoming from Animal Heart Press on June 1,, 2019.