“Sarah Elizabeth Ford’s collection, Perversions & Saplings, is hauntingly vivid and shows us the destructive path that nature has been forced to take. Each piece contrasts vibrant imagery with the deterioration of creation; from nature outside to human nature. Each piece serves as a stepping stone in forewarning her readers of the damage society has allowed the world to dissolve into, and the declining landscape of evolution.
One such step is provided by ‘British Shorthair,’ a transmutation poem of ‘Science’ by Aracelis Girmay. Here, readers observe cannibalistic instinct supersede the domesticated breed of a German Shepherd and a cat. While readers expect to find the intimidating dog attack an unsuspecting chipmunk, it’s the cat who catches its prey.
‘Your mew was not a lion’s yawn, not a lion’s yawn.’
Her piece provides an element of disbelief that something so tame could be so feral.
‘Elegy of Green’ provides us a whirlwind of images that coalesce in the ever-present ‘fog.’ Several times, we’re shown the decay of what is natural through graveyards serving as picnic parks, rotting ash trees, and the plastic career of a businessperson weighed down by the swamp-like conditions which seep into their suit. The final reference to Romeo can’t help but conjure feelings of beauty and its imminent loss.
‘Earth Processing: A Cento,’ tells the story of the very death throes of a tree. We witness the trunk fall to become a log, swallowed by earth and its rotting leaves. The process is gruesome, with spiders swarming, flames peeling, and dead skins. Readers are subjected to watching the destruction of the natural order.
Ford’s works illustrate a timeline of meddling in the natural world to its inevitable destruction. Bookmarked first by something seemingly natural but unexpected, to that of which is completely unnatural but becomes a forced model of living. Gradually, each piece guides us to see the possible conclusions of our actions at each juncture toward being more efficient, and simultaneously more unnatural.”
— Rachel Steele, JFR Poetry Editor
The following three poems were hand-picked by Sarah Ford, showcasing the talent found in her recent chapbook, Perversions & Saplings.
transmutation of “Science” by Aracelis Girmay
You were focusing your slivered eyes on the feather & fur
of lesser pigeons & ground squirrels,
but the German Shepherd chased in, it grew 42 teeth,
it had more leash & pawed & pawed around the yard.
Your mew was not a lion’s yawn, not a lion’s yawn
that clawed the screen wide and chomped the chipmunk’s head.
You licked it to shreds with your blue muzzle, soft fur, crunchy bones—
& threatened the German Shepherd off his own turf.
There’s more out there! There’s more out there! You insist,
Meat has never tasted so small. Though I can’t ever
believe you were meant to hunt, never hunt,
tame, tame cat, domestic cat—
Elegy of Green
after Aracelis Girmay’s “Elegy in Gold”
Folding chair, saplings,
whirly birds, ancient fir,
graveyards are picnic parks,
fog within a forest’s
canopy, fog within
the sunlight’s glare,
I crawl in the construction
of the American businessperson
inheriting bog within
my hair, neck, and legs.
This was the village
of the river-workers: Romeo,
you shed your leaves
like a rotting Ash twig.
Earth Processing: A Cento
That’s what they call dead logs.
One grew moss on her tongue:
the papery dead skins,
scent: pine, sage, and cypress.
Her mother embraces her body:
leaves swallow the body of light
like spiders when a fly is caught.
They come to peel the flames
through the dusky windows of daughter skin;
the yewey trees, the sharp-toothed
stars: bring me to where my blood runs.
I conjure rough green to rupture
from seeds. The trees lean closer today.
Someday this tree will drop,
believing that the dirt loves her.
Lines taken from: Molly Peacock, C.D. Wright, Robin Coste Lewis, Patricia Spears Jones, James Longenbach, Marsha De La O, Javier Zamora, Jamaal May, Marilyn Nelson, Cate Marvin, Wanda Coleman, Evie Shockley, Yusef Komunyakaa, Janet McNally, & Tony Hoagland
Sarah Elizabeth Ford is finishing her last semester at Lewis University (finally) with a bachelor’s in English writing. She enjoys creating fiction pieces that test the perspectives of her readers with bizarre situations and a dark, sarcastic humor. By placing these situations in logic-based societies, she forces her readers to challenge their “proper” views of the world without providing the reassurance of a right way of thinking. Ford has been a Jet Fuel Review family member since fall 2013 and will be returning as a Fiction and Art & Design Editor for her seventh issue this coming fall. She has a great passion for all crafts of art, building furniture & languages, and watching Star Trek: Voyager or Bob Ross on Netflix. She is easily excited by quality pens, daily planners, four-pawed pets, anti-jokes, inexpensive yarn in bulk, video games of all sorts and systems, and classic Chinese tea sets. Her extreme anxiety when interacting with humans and her self-reflective nature often makes her seem shy in public. She believes in tattoos, a higher power, and happiness.