Tag Archives: Ruth Williams

Flatlands
by Ruth Williams

Review by A. N. DeJesus

Flatlands by Ruth Williams
Flatlands
Ruth Williams
978-1-62557-989-8
(2018, Black Lawrence Press)
$15.95, paper

The relationship between landscape and self-identity are often more deeply intertwined than we can imagine. In Flatlands, Williams explores this link between her developing sense of Self and her life in the flat expanse of plains in Nebraska. The poetic landscape of this collection cultivates surprising language and musicality of verse, allowing for the fundamental truths of Williams’s life in the plains to be illuminated with beautifully wrought images.

In “Physiography,” Williams writes:

Flatlands,
the pat of a hand
on your head. A good girl,
a slicing edge. Like a scythe
through grass you learn to love
the sound of cutting hair…

The complexities of girlhood in rural life are fleshed out in this piece with the unexpected juxtaposition of violence and passivity. The underlying toxicity of learned submission is plainly evident without discounting the complications of familial tradition. The piece ends with the lines,

so being put in your place
is like a cross on your flat back.

The finality of these closing lines is palpable. Williams refrains from the use of flowery language and instead opts for simplicity. The jarring image of crucifixion communicates how natural submission and complacency become in an environment where it is expected and enforced as a community unto young girls and women.

Flatlands is rife with revelations of the ramifications this kind of upbringing has on the development of her identity as an individual, and as a woman. Understated and subtle, the poems themselves take root. Whether you live in a bustling city, a sprawling suburb, or a cottage on the cape, this book is an invaluable window onto life in a place where each sunset and sunrise send the earth aflame as far as the eye can see.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 3.

A N DeJesusA. N. DeJesus is a technical writer and poet out of Kansas City, MO pursuing an MA in Literary Theory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her work appears in the Los Angeles Review, Bear Review and Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine.

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Surviving on Equations
by Ruth Williams

The day is the longest thread,
a continuing out and out and out.

Mirage: a piece of light tricks
the floor to spark. The shard
of a shattered glass.

Shell: a sweater with a button off,
the two sides
in a lopsided embrace.

The night is the longest bowl,
a continuing down and down and down.

Nightshade: something escapes in sleep,
the huff of a dream scrapes
along the pillow.

Halo: fantasize the body
to supple, a strand
that sings under fingers.

Even so, the terrible gape
of the tongue wagging in air:

a blind pig snuffling
the taut skin
of a ripe fruit.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Ruth WilliamsRuth Williams is the author of Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Cutbank, Third Coast, Fourteen Hills, and Faultline among others. Currently, she is a Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College.

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A Hanging Line of Red and White
by Ruth Williams

Their feet danced for a little, but not long. —The Odyssey, Book XXII

Telemakhos binds us, crimps our limbs
till they curve like white, long-reed plants.

He may call us harlots,
but we kept his father’s house.

Now he makes of us a rude count of heads:
one and one and one. Too much.

We strand, a lengthening line.
Off the girl beside me, a spot of red sings.

Her slender hips jangle, sway in time.
She’s a plucked stork, her wings tucked,

neck slung with twine.
Her bloody eye looks out.

Dirt red singes its chorus under my nails.
So, towards my suitor, I cast this crimson.

Once, he moved across my room and
I counted him: a filament of minted light.

So my sheets held one and one, a spot of red
and skin shed. White draped on white.

I was a good maid, I wove good threads;
pulled us tight in a neat stitch.

Now, I jolt and jigger, tug him
from the dust of that great hall.

Sway with me dear,
wrapped in my string.

Do you feel Aphrodite’s kiss?
It glistens our cooling skin.

Her lips: red
and red and red.

Love, do not doubt.
We will be born again as gods.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.

Ruth WilliamsRuth Williams is the author of Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Cutbank, Third Coast, Fourteen Hills, and Faultline among others. Currently, she is a Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College.

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Visit Ruth Williams’s contributors page.