Bind by Christine Murray- Reviewed

4

Bind Christine Murray

Turas Press https://turaspress.ie/shop/bind-by-christine-murray/

ISBN: 978-0-9957916-4-0, 72pp, €12

Christine Murray uses minimal, impressionistic language to convey images from the natural world.  bind is split into sections,  bind ,  a hierarchy of halls ,  babel,  wintering and Dawn, the name of the last section rocks convention by having an initial capital. The lack of capitals signals to the reader that all words are important and the reader has to consider where the focus should lie. In narcissus, from the opening section, a flower is on the bank of a storm-blackened stream,

narcissus flower is a cut-out,
it has shut in the cold
            skeining it back into bud.
            echo     and,
                        outbreath         breathe –
the thread skeins back,
the blind buds are always.
            step
                 (not-step)
            back then
            step
                  (not-step)
back then, back
                                     |back from the black river nets|

In Ovid’s version of the myth, Narcissus was tricked by Nemesis into falling in love with his reflection after rejecting the nymph Echo who faded until she was only a voice. The flower’s bold, yellow colour stands out against the bank where it’s trying to flower despite the March storms. It’s caught in this curious dance of trying to open its buds despite the storm. The spacing of words offers the reader to draw metaphors into the poem. The images are revisited in onyx which ends

birds swipe, swirl
through black,
black,
and back then.
they split and pool,
nonetheless they
persist as mirrors.

Nature continues to face a struggle for survival in a hierarchy of halls, orchid ends,

five-fingered-orchis
bark clung /
its webbed finger takes
meat from hidden-streams
a glint of stone | iron the divide

Those hidden-streams are about the ability of the orchid to seek sustenance in places not visible to the casual observer and how life survives in an apparently hostile environment. The poems in babel look at how the natural world is full of language, if only observers were patient enough to learn it, in without title

it wheels upon,
(it falls)
a leaf fallen
is always a poem

Reading and interpreting that poem depends on readers’ willingness to do so. The theme of patient observation continues in the wintering section where in winter in (erasure), a stone is

held
in /
hostaged
to
dark
water
cold
a
(s)tone
riffle
skips
skin
surfaces

The final section, Dawn, brings a promise of spring from the previous landscapes of black water and seasonal cold, in part 10,

slowly she seams a glitter.
slowly, the hollow(ing)
black-mirror foots the mire
slowly, the tree at dawn.
slowly sleeps’ corridors,
opens out their hierarchy of halls.

The minimalist, impressionistic approach takes the risk that the reader is prepared to make a bit of effort but the poems in  bind  reward that effort. The images remain in readers’ memories after the book is closed because they are suggestive of mysteries and hidden depths that the reader can choose to explore. The graceful control of the poems demonstrates skill and understanding of lyric and subject.  bind  is a book to dip into and return to with the possibility of seeing something new on each visit.

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