The Dottery by Kirsten Kaschock

She Market

by Natalia Kennedy

A week ago I found a fortune. Not unusual. Stiff slip of paper nestled in a stale cookie.

Slightly more strange to get the double fortune. Or none. But this was unsuspicious: one cookie, one fate. I’ve forgotten most of the message and sentiment, yet the Chinese translation continues to unfold in my mind. Two words: She, market—followed by their corresponding characters. The combination of those words struck me, but made more sense as I kept trying them on. In the essence or wake of Jørgen Leth’s film, Det perfekte menneske, The Perfect Human, I wonder: What is the female market? Who is she? What does she have? What can she sell? What is she made of?

Kirsten Kaschock just begins to answer these questions in her January 2014 release, a book of poems from University of Pittsburgh Press, The Dottery. Kaschock’s telling and talking of woman, mother (mutter), and daughter (dotter) suggests a fortune passed and past yet vibrantly reimagined. Mostly these poems are smart.

Can woman or the oppressed body—any “othered” body—fully reaffirm or unite itself? Maybe. In her language, Kaschock taps into something vital and often violent to consider things seriously mis-constructed. What does it mean to be woman—to be encapsulated in the a constant membrane of “she?” The table of contents offers hints. Sections such as wound, duel, triage, fear, and thief provide instinctually charged shifts I find similar to Karyna McGlynn’s I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl—a book she describes as having different psychic temperatures throughout. From section two, “Dual” in the text, Kaschock or a dotter speaks and tries to make known a real truth in this untitled poem:

To talk talk.

I need to use it to speak to you but can twist it is myth.

The confederate flag is not about slavery for Athenians who wish it

          as they wish Meemaw had not shown up in her best Sunday best

          for lynchings.

My ancestors were rapists.

I recognize control is not within my mouth—no I know now means yes.

Still, when I hear how bitch Hillary is, it is not how I wished to say

           the word.

Except to my college roommate

That one, that one time.

Kaschock moves in fresh and intelligent words as well as an often contemplative babble to say and render meaningful the half-joke that is life for/at the dotter(y). Over and over again she points at and laughs, watches and cries, stalks, cheats, and constructs the feminine, the overlooked, the misshapen body, the She Market.

As I stop to consider other tiny remnants of my oddly phrased future, those two items linger: She, market. Yes, the beef and broccoli was salty and good. The prediction was suggestive. Only two other words to remember—setting satisfactorily. This, I imagine as a woman is impossible.

- 1/30/2015