There's a heady femininity in Felicity Plunkett's Vanishing Point. Taken as a whole, the work creates a semiotic discourse that is so rich with jouissance that I'm reminded strongly of the Helene Cixous' edict "Write yourself. Your body must be heard." (The Laugh of the Medusa). This is Plunkett's unique style — to take the reader deep within the gestural, rhythmic moment of the body, desconstructing and rebuilding in such a way that something new arises. The work is set up in three sections, each pivoting around the notion of 'flakes'. It's an evocative word, conjuring different associations — from the trivial, as in flakes of skin, bits of nothingness, tiny hints of something that is almost inconsequential at face value, to the more intense idea of disintegration, loss, flaking away, aging, and attempting to piece together that which can't be reconstructed.
"Flakes of a Dream" is, in many ways, the most harsh of the three sections. It opens with the terrible guilt of the Atom Bomb in "Journey of a Dead Man": "Atomic radiance/ bursts onto your tongue like ridicule." The work progresses through the wordplay mourning of sitting shiva and Shiva the Hindu destroyer — bereavement, longing, and renewal taking the personal into the realm of the universal. It's not just the poet's voice that becomes personal. It's also Robert Oppenheimer's voice, the Hindu God Shiva's voice, the voice of the mourning wife, and a myriad of guises from mother, a child watching a father die - "My feelings' syntax made no sense." ("Learning the Bones"), to a grown woman dodging love's commitment:
Your own abjection excites and nauseates you
as you raise your arm
higher, and wait
to lose yourself in gravity. ("Flakes Shaking Free")
The language is tense, intense, and painful, but so taut and fresh that almost every line could be pulled out and recited on its own to powerful effect: "The rhapsodic divorces the epiphanic." ("Cottonwoods Screen Japan"). Though the overall impact of this chapter is mourning, loss, and a dream that is pursued at the edges of memory, there is always a central figure of life — the speaker standing amidst her destruction. Sitting Shiva progresses to the smashing of glass at a Jewish wedding — the symbolism of the smashed glass functioning in its traditional role of a reminder of loss amidst celebration:
Your shivaistic tongue soaped,
your bride-silent eyes averted:
there is no washing away. ("The Smashing of the Glass")
Behind every poem in this section is violence, sometimes subtle, as in the hint of annihilation against the tenderness of motherhood in "Ferrying", or the more explicit as in the seven sections of "Your Violent Past": "eyes closed against the rapturous/violence of that fire."