“I know as much as I know”, Baumann writes, “and still get out of bed.” And what trauma survivor has not marveled at this exact triumph? Thornwork is a rigorous examination of the abundant hunger of both body and psyche to survive. This generous work confronts our inadequacies: “We have tried you, language, but you have not been enough,” and nurtures even our most imperceptible efforts: “I have almost enough courage to keep walking myself home,” offering a realistic portrait of the untidy endeavor to persevere. —Jeanann Verlee
Thornwork sings to the soft sleeping animal at the center of us all, and shows us that to love wrongly is still to love. It’s a eulogy for the former self, a prayer, a ghost story. This is an urgent, spell-binding book.
Ruth Baumann’s Thornwork is painted with vertiginous desires, “I wake up how a thief wakes up, one want at a time.” These poems explore what happens when we harm for or are harmed by that which we desire—“god is not a pitcher plant / It’s us humans that eat each other.” Baumann leads us into a world that is both familiar and foggy, both lonely and suffocating, a world where “Life fidgets everywhere.” It isn’t Baumann’s job to lead us back out—she is here to tell us what’s at stake, she is here to show us the “new angles.” Come in and have a look around. “Make a sudden noise. See which animals in us come out.” —Paige Lewis