Oriana Ivy writes with a tenderness which I find alluring. In How to Jump from a Moving Train, this tenderness is perhaps most apparent in-part because these poems are mainly centered around the poet’s relationship with her mother.
Jack Kerouac once quipped: I wrote this book because we’re all gonna die. Life is accompanied by unparalleled loss, by seemingly insurmountable pain; without anything extra added to it, just on the strength of the fact that each one of us will have to leave this bodily plane at some point, and nobody knows when that will be, for themselves or others; because of this, I heed Oriana Ivy’s message of warmth, of kindness, of tenderness.
Reading How to Jump from a Moving Train is not unlike developing a sincere friendship with someone. In the beginning there is curiosity, wonder, joy, gratitude. By the end of this book, these feelings prevail, if not more fully amplified & heightened, due to the real possibility that we eventually see the death of this person who we have developed a sense of love and friendship for, by having known them.
There are so many “little” details and memories throughout this chapbook, which calls to mind the idea of witness. To witness someone, is to see that person for who they are. To be present with and for that person. Providing witness for someone, of course, carries on even after their physical presence is no longer a reality. To remember the goodness, laughter, the humor; such as when her mother whispered in Polish, at a party, that the fellow partygoers don’t understand anything. Or when contemplating desire, the conclusion is made: But without wanting / the highest, is it really life? To provide witness for someone with love in this way, I think, is a kind of grace. Is a kind of relief from the trauma and suffering which often seems to be embedded in this human life.
Another thing I love about this collection is that the poems come to the reader on the ground that the suffering of life is understood as a fact. Life can be messy, many of us are damaged along the way, many of us do damage along the way. These facts are approached with a kind of trust in the reader that I admire.
That the poet is able to bring the focus, beyond the trauma and pain of her journey, to the love, warmth and wisdom for herself, her mother and with gratitude for her own position in this world, I think, is a sure sign that it can be done. It is possible to come to a place of warmth & peace for ourselves, our loved ones, and each other. No matter what.
Throughout my reading of How to Jump from a Moving Train, I see Oriana Ivy as a witness to the good in humanity, as someone who holds a kind of radical endurance. This endurance is a great teacher. I am reminded that I can make it through the storms of my lives with my humanity intact, with my warmth intact, with a kind of persevering tenderness which opens oneself to the art & action of being present to love, and loving as fully, as humanely possible.
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