Kristina Marie Darling strikes again with creating a surreal and memorable journey through her particular style of writing in Brushes With, a collection that captures a romance that is no longer, scenes and footnotes that entice and leave the reader curious and wanting more. The works themselves provide enticing instances of foreshadowing for the doomed relationship. Darling contrasts light and dark, physical space versus the words inside one’s mind, memories and imagery delicately entwine. Below I am happy to share some samples:
We were no longer in love. The sky, too, was beginning to show its wear. A silk lining could be seen through every slit in the dark green fabric. 1
I started to wonder where we went wrong. You were holding a map of the constellations.2 Each of the minor stars had been assigned to a square on a little grid. The map seemed scientific so I approached you.3
You kept looking down at your compass. The needle spinning beneath a little screw. Maybe this is where we went wrong.
Above us, the sky is still wearing its green dress. The most delicate strings holding it all in place.
1. The photographs portray this dress as one of the most violent manifestations of the heroine’s femininity.
2. At the edge of the map, she could discern a cluster of minor stars. Their incessant movement seemed difficult to comprehend, let alone to document.
3. “I had wanted to understand the cause of this fearful disturbance. Within my compass the needle kept spinning and spinning.”
*I apologize that my footnotes’ numbers do not appear like they should, that is the limitation of trying to transfer her work to a blog post. I will say that I love how she creates her text and ties footnotes to them, along with pages of just footnotes. In this piece the overwhelming darkness and the avoidance of eye contact depicts a couple avoiding each other even while present in each other’s lives. The comparison of the sky to dark green fabric with silk lining is romantic and delicate, so delicate that strings hold it in place and threaten to smother the couple should the fabric break free. Whether that was the meaning behind Darling’s piece I do not know, I only know that it is how I picture it for myself. Darling is a master at creating a visually stimulating piece weighted with more emotion than you initially read into.
After the divorce, after your mistress, after the stars were eclipsed by the bright lights of the city, I gathered all of the broken dishes you’d left behind. I placed each one of them on a little shelf, recorded their height in a dark green book.
I began to realize the significance of this gesture. What is love but a parade of memorable objects, a row of dead butterflies pinned under glass?
You had always loved mementos. Once you’d even rented a small boat to find your missing porcelain statuette. 18
I started to wonder what other gifts you’d leave behind. The dried insects I’d find in each of your letters.
I closed the cabinet door, counted each piece of shattered glass, and tried to imagine them all in your perfect white hands.
18. This statue of the Holy Mother would later be found headless in a tiny museum in northern France.
*I love the line “What is love but a parade of memorable objects, a row of dead butterflies pinned under glass?” So often we keep objects to remember our loved ones by, even during our courtship. How many of us have kept old love notes or gifts from past relationships? I also am intrigued by the “dried insects I’d find in each of your letters,” the significance perhaps being the dried up feelings of romance? Also, the mention of the man appearing to be scientific in the previous sample and the dried insects leads me to believe this is a clue to his scientific interests. The footnote, #18, is one I like simply because I was raised Catholic and the idea of Holy Mother becoming headless is terrifying for someone like me. For it to appear in a completely different location, a museum, shrouds the whole passage in mystery which is intriguing to me. We have an understand for what led to the separation but the actions afterwards only provide more intrigue and questions. I’ve noticed that throughout her pieces Darling makes mention of the color dark green which can connote “intelligence” or of course, lush forests and perhaps fertile growth, along with broken glass, something that can be reflective and dangerous all at once. Darling’s work is often layered and I enjoy reading her pieces several times over to find more underneath the words than initially encountered.
46. A scene in the documentary, in which the woman replies, “What he really loved was my ignorance.” Although an awkward silence ensued, the camera kept rolling for a few more minutes.
*This strikes me at my core. Many of us can relate to being adored by someone who thinks or knows we are clueless about their true nature. The camera continuing to roll despite the awkward silence is interesting, the person in charge of the camera showing that vulnerability and exposing it that much further which causes the reader to pause and place themselves in the woman’s place. Where were you when you experienced the same realization in your own life? That’s the question that comes out to me as I read this footnote.
As always, I feel I cannot truly do justice for Kristina Marie Darling, I often personalize her work in order to feel my way through it and then share it with all of you. It is a beautiful collection of pieces that I urge you to read. If you enjoyed this sample you may purchase a copy of Kristina Marie Darling’s Brushes With from BlazeVox books for $16.00 at:
To learn more about Kristina Marie Darling, please visit her website at:
Thanks always for reading, please stay tuned for more featured poets…