On Materiality and Surreality in Cate Peebles’ Thicket by Rachel Moritz

“Earth’s blue as an orange,” Cate Peebles writes, and “Planets unpeel glassy thin skin,” and in these lines and many more, accreting pleasurably and mysteriously throughout her book, image suspends us in color, texture, sound. There is the speaker's female body. There are two lovers, their hands no where to be seen. There are various human structures, roofs and windows, streets and woodlands, animals (boar and red deer and does dead on the road) and the habitat of the poem with its formal borders: lines, stanzas, narrow rectangles of text on the page.

“It’s been days since the last word came,” Peebles writes, as her words clothe themselves for us to see and see past, strung in the pretend hammock of the poem. Her images feel archival, mixed together so time period dissolves, as if in a giant box or upended glass diorama: a collection of artifacts, archaic in nature, though not always—are they European? Are they American? Root vegetables. Black tulips. An albino peacock. A silver-strung lintel. An escaped dancing bear. This poetry is not rooted in specific place or story, yet it insists on the thing-ness of the world. In this, it is Capricornian, as the speaker says of her sun sign, “a shaggy goat on an alpine ledge,” and it is pleasurably sonic and surprising and smart. 

“How much imaginary string is needed for one fiber/to fray just enough to undo you?” In Cate Peeble’s deft art, the string is unfurled, and we are undone by image just as we exist as bodies that eat her language, well-done.