by Calia Jane Mayfield.
Aura Martin is a poet based in St. Louis who focuses her work on prose poetry and centos. It is easy to tell from her previously published work that she has truly captured the craft and made centos into a staple of her work. Here in Wrongdoing, she writes a stunning cento entitled “The Quiet Dark” utilizing an amazing selection of work that embodies a sense of wanting and searching while coming to terms with self. With the selected pieces displayed above the work, which appears like a panel of writers at a conference, she crafts of the more beautiful pieces of poetry to be published this year. This is a poem that demands to be felt.
“The Quiet Dark” is a poem that forced me to hold my breath until the very last line. Focused on the more sensual aspects of sexuality and wanting, she takes Franny Choi and Celeste Ng’s words and elevates them to new heights, infusing a deeper sense of searching for home among others in a way that is truly her own. While ‘cento’ may refer to patchwork, Martin’s poem feels more like a quilt handmade by a grandmother passed through the ages. Breathtaking and completely comforting.
What heavies your pelvis, and: what shushes the ringing when you dip your skull below.
I waded back out, still wet of him, too afraid to wring him out of my clothes in case I was wrong. I walked through the first boy like a pool of water churning with living things I almost remembered from dreams. What you call wet, I call room to breathe.
The way she takes the lines from Choi and Ng, and creates such a visceral experience, is a unique quality that elevates her work form something simply good into a land of greatness that you can’t replicate. She brings forth an environment for her speaker to feel like a person that you want to listen to. This cento shows off Martin’s powerful ability to create tangible feelings and an ethereal sense of wanting. Time stopped the moment I started this poem, and it took my breath away with every line. I felt like the speaker and I became one the more time I spent reading and rereading the piece over and over. When it ends, you will feel the need to read it again and again, focusing on a new line each time. Martin takes and reshapes what it is to want to be and what it means to find yourself going from wanting the intangible and instead becoming the intangible.