Along a Snake Fence Riding

W.H. New - Bio and Media
pb / 2007-09 / Poetry /
9780889822368 / 96pp / $16.95

Along a Snake Fence Riding is a long poem for eight voices. One of these voices is that of the narrator, who steps into the poem “from time to time” to record a life of intention and ambition, resistance and refusal, byways of discovery and decision, and continuing persistence. Other voices speak “out of time.” These are the voices of memory and experience, flooding back in fragments, recalling moments in a life (or the moments of living)—not in chronological sequence but by association, as though set in motion by the senses, or by the twisting circuits of thought. In the back- ground, constant but often ignored, is the last of the eight voices, the voice of the clock, which carries time forward even while the mind is collapsing duration into momentariness, refusing the conventions of sequence, and revisiting the past as though it were happening even now.

The poem is, in short, a meditation on time and memory, and on the science of time and memory: rich in allusion and eloquent in imagery, wide-ranging and yet remarkable in its close attention to detail. The poem invites readers not just to follow the life that is imagined on these pages but to venture into their own lives, discover the joy and the pain of living in connection—in connection with other people, with love and loss, and with the environment we sometimes ignore and yet always call home.

Along a Snake Fence Riding is an experience, a visceral, emotional experience, that calls the reader to follow the fence line wherever it irregularly wanders, to immerse in the river it follows, to engage with the music of the language and discover, too, the possibility of celebration.