A damaged young woman attempts to rebuild her life after a near-deadly affair in this eerie fable.
The speaker of Meijer’s novella in poems is an artist lost inside her own wilderness. “I drew you as I used to draw myself, at first to make / more of you, later to get rid of you, and now I don’t draw you / at all,” she thinks as she attempts to unravel a destructive affair. Years later, she remains haunted by the woods where she once seduced a wolf with “jade eyes” and “silver hair, older than any man I’d ever thought was / beautiful.” Even after she returns to the city, resumes her teaching job, and marries “a man…who takes pity on things, whose pity / leads him to love,” the speaker receives dream phone calls that contain leaves rustling in the wind or erotic commands that call her back to the wild. Meijer (Heartbreaker, 2016) is an expert at worldbuilding, and the narrative she spins is fractured across fairy tale, mythology, and the occult. Broken into lines, the story becomes even more propulsive and strange—we don’t get entire scenes but moments on either side of a blackout or brief glimpses into the speaker’s indelible fear of losing herself to lust and violence. Like Anne Carson or Maggie Nelson, Meijer creates her own genre, somewhere between poetry and prose, myth and reality. While Meijer is sometimes stronger at creating an overall effect than at landing individual lines, the result is still memorable, strange, and haunting.
Fans of Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Kate Bernheimer will find much to love in Meijer’s haunted woods.