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Le Guin’s ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ (1986), which redefines technology as a cultural carrier bag, a container, a womb, as found in ‘Ars Poetica’: “pulled from the Seine with a seine net. With a purse seine”, or

The puddled cloth, the placket of blood like a garment for the flagstones below the smashed skull sewn on the bias the seam lies flat

No one is exempt from being gathered in, gathering or imbricated in these Pandora’s boxes, careering through the wreckage coated in lotions, potions, full of medications, gems, “bedazzled” – there is no relief from the endless chemical spills, extraction, exploitation in this “ceaseless report” patterned together by sound, where nothing can fly forward except a toxified poetic logic.

Likewise, the book’s engagement with a communal history of birth and death feels synonymous with, though by no means exclusive to, motherhood – to have a child is also always to bring a death into the world, to excavate a grave in the future. The poems in Arachne inhabit this “endzone” in an unsentimental mode that is acute, unbearable, a personal testimony that I feel unable to comment on. Like a toxic arrow, death has a twin movement of rising out of the sky (and keeping rising) – and dropping into the bottom-most floor of the basement (and keeping crashing down). The final poem in Arachne, and the book, ends with this impossible dual movement, impossibly possible in poems:

I summon all mine vanity virility and fertility and crash my plane into the abandoned nursery

& break my brainstorm down I mean my brainstem starved of oxygen eating itself emitting its bleat

144 The Poetry Review

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