August 8, 2016
There is a quality of music in the balanced rhythms of Julie Roorda’s poetry. Except for the 17- part sequence The Altruist, her poems in Courage Underground (Guernica 2006) rarely go beyond a page. She hardly needs that to find her way into the quality of darkness in what she is nominally writing about. Her titles say Earwig or June Bugs but the quiet voice burrowing into your head is saying ‘harmonic convergence’ or ‘gelatinous transformation’ or ‘intimacy with compulsion’.
In a later section, after titles like ‘Everything I regret persists in the form of a small animal’ and ‘Broken-Hearted Looks on Love’, Roorda has a poem called ‘The Quality of Darkness’. In 27 lines in 5 verses her attentive listening to a Radio One show on light pollution brings her to a realization:
My eyes are as my skin, sensitive
As the pervious covering of amphibians,
Feeling the press of darkness, being
More than just the absence of light…
In her interior darkness, she and the frog are one and are singing “the same old song: Save me, save me.” By the end of the poem it is the darkness that is speaking and no one who reads it will sleep through it.
For Julie Roorda, and the disembodied aliens she imagines observing us at night, we can shuck off our sarchophagal casings and are “closest to real, / when we are dreaming.”
Become, like her, the subjects of the poems she is writing and have the courage to join in on these underground transformations.