There is a constant yearning to touch what has been lost in Kyle Vaughn’s The Alpinist Searches Lonely Places, a hand groping for what was but returns empty. In the collection, Kyle Vaughn opens us to how desire and hunger can be both holy and unholy. In his words “And when I wanted you even more, God’s light corrected me with a belt, whipped me all the way into another wheeless turn of the land around my mind”
One cannot fail to appreciate the solemnity of Kyle’s voice; how he manages to effortlessly evoke emotions such that wherever one turns in the collection, there is always a void that needs to be filled, a desire to be with someone that is not present. Put it, there is always a presence that is absent, one that language itself cannot wholly account for.
Speaking of language, the richness in metaphors and the precision in the choice of diction is something to admire in Vaughn’s collection. This prolific use of language can be noticed in so many of the poems in the collection, one of which is a poem titled “Vigil and Serenade”. Here, Vaughn says “I want to drink water until/my blood is the color of language.” As is expected of a collection that dabbles between love, reminiscence, nostalgia and loss, he does not fall below expectations with regard to the use of language. In fact, he raises the bar. For instance in the poem “The Complete History Of The Lyric”, he compares love to a door by saying “On this date, in some century/someone discovered a door /or confessed their love”.
Though there is a part of the poem that romanticizes, there is another part that mourns, another part that wants but cannot have and this creates a forlorn, elegiac tone throughout the poem. It causes Kyle to ask “How long, how long the journey of desire”. However, regardless of how long it is, Vaughn personifies his patience by painting a vivid of him “hunched like an animal in wait of another, a face so desirous one could mistake it for danger”
A poem that best represents the entirety of the collection is “June, Huron Peak” and as much as I am holding myself from spilling too much, I cannot help but call you into magic as can be seen below;
Scaled to reach thin air to be
Lighter than my loss. Found
Just another sun-facing grief,
Remnants of snowpack, some lichen
And sedges and mostly stones.
Even far from desire, I couldn’t
Fall deaf to music’s golden work,
How your laugh rose so pure.
Even above the tree line, still
I would climb. And yet
There is that bird up there,
Even higher. Whatever he lost
must be all the sky.
Summarily, Vaughn bares himself to us, letting us into the pain he is feeling. He allows us a peek into his world where we feel the sting of memory, where we get to know that “Each year fills with wild onion,/bitter greens. Daylight unraveled/into a last black point/into the dark of calendar.” As if not enough, he contemplates “there was a time that yellow was a color, not a memory.//there was your dress, a towering,/unbuttoned shrine. And your/sunlit voice, saying my name, almost singing my name, almost singing above the noise of the city.”