Sarah McCartt-Jackson takes the reader on a journey in Calf Canyon. It’s a sad book about someone looking back at their past and coming to terms with their inability to change it. This puts us on the road with this person as they’re running from the misery they’ve lived through. Trying to get away is understandable–hell, it’s even appealing to a certain degree–and it’s here that we can discover what’s so intriguing about McCartt-Jackson’s collection: your history doesn’t allow you to hide from it.
Calf Canyon /Crossing/
I am trying to tell my unborn daughter a story. It is an old story
that hangs on the spinneret tip of a spider’s abdomen,
the spider’s heart a bruise,
each chamber a stitch that nicks the copper blood
as it rushes through, each valve sighing out
Like the hush that hung
And this poem continues from there, but this excerpt gives us a good idea of where McCartt-Jackson is taking us during this traveling set of poems. We’re occasionally placed in physical locations, making parts of Calf Canyon feel like a cross country road trip, but that flourish takes a back seat to the raw human emotion we see festering on the page. Place plays an important role, but it’s her memory that is the star. It’s hard not to connect with this book, feeling what McCartt-Jackson felt as she wrote these poems, and isn’t that connection what every writer is striving for?