Reading, we are allowed to follow someone else’s train of thought as it starts off for an imaginary place. This train has been produced for us—or rather materialized and extended until it is almost nothing like the ephemeral realizations with which we’re familiar. To see words pulled one by one into existence is to intrude on a privacy of sorts. But we are familiar with the contract between spectator and performer. Now the text isn’t a train but an actress/model who takes off her school uniform piece by piece alone with the cameraman. She’s a good girl playing at being bad, all the time knowing better. She invites us to join her in that knowledge. But this is getting us nowhere.
“Imaginary Places” from Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2015. © 2016 by Rae Armantrout. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission.