datableedzine is publishing important work, & upon very first read became a glossy of weight. In their fourth issue, Linda Russo’s “Plant Light Situating.” One immediately notices grammatical agreement errors (‘they lies’; ‘[they] gives their’) that impose, on one hand, like speaker / narrator vernacular, a shared local mode, mumpsimus; then just as quickly appear a narratorial yielding to a subject that demands simultaneity or ‘error’ to view. In terms of pure interest, a reader is won to the second case—these beings ‘lives with the sprite of plants their grace / folding inward curling outward,’ they ‘[g]ives their / full weight and the weight or the pull of the moon that is full.’
I cannot—after many invested reads—figure precisely whom these beings are. I lean towards their being animal or man, specifically for ‘unfamiliar neighbors’ in the first stanza and the ‘look to realize’ bit in the second—a plant or protista or fungi would have little use for familiarity or realization as men understand them (and a dog or cat but obliquely). Yet the point-of-view is so remarkably big-hearted that it creates a druid’s true neutral ambience as environ—remarkable—accounting, seemingly, for the justice of coexistence more like a brimming cup than a sword. Look:
One is privileged to sit in the half-light calm of midday, to live in a world sometimes filled
with light, to be visited by uncertain clarity and the gentlest inviting wavering.
Gentlest inviting wavering! Next:
One reads the decompositions in dirt in clouds shifting with the quiet of myriad slow
moving beings the processes vivid at the lowest level [. . .]
That ‘neutral ambience’ I mentioned calls attention to one’s general search to locate a speaker / pinion its identity; Russo has created a world where my desire to corner her speaker is countervailed by an acknowledgment of content far greater than naming. An unusual achievement—a very intriguing goal, if goal’s to be divined.
The flexibility of ‘one’ in the third and fourth stanzas leads me to wager at divining. It functions to both point (this one) and locate a general / possible third person (one might . . .), heightening, to my mind, the potential for purposeful ambiguity-as-lived-mode in “Plant Light Situating.” When ‘they’ and ‘one’ alternate subject-position in the fourth stanza, anonymity dances with gardener singularity, solidarity with lone form. We have here ‘a landscape history in the foottexts of walkers,’ yes—but the prints, deliciously, haven’t a Signifying tread to cast. This is the poetry of someone writing-after the alien intelligence of plants.
2 responses to “Linda Russo’s “Plant Light Situating””
Dam I miss these. Get back on your weekly schedule 😅
“Content far greater than naming.” Yes. Liminal inhabitance, naming repudiated, the binary blown. Great stuff.