The Earliest Witnesses by G.C. Waldrep
Waldrep's seventh collection begins where his prior collection, feast gently, left off: "This / is how the witness ends: touch, withdraw; touch again," according to the opening poem in The Earliest Witnesses. If these are poems of witness, then they are also testators to the craft of seeing: eye-proofs of an epiphenomenal world. "Can you see this," the ophthalmologist in "A Mystic's Guide to Arches" asks over and over again. Sight becomes both the facilitator and impediment of desire, in collusion with language itself. "She said, When you say pear, I see p-e-a-r for a second before I see, in my mind's eye, a pear," Waldrep carefully records in "[West Stow Orchard Poem (II)]." The desire-poems in The Earliest Witnesses want the thing itself, its image of the mind, and the language that transmutes both thing and image into song.