We’re finalizing edits for Cincinnati Review 10.1, our Summer 2013 issue. CR editors were asked to write a little something about their favorite pieces. That’s good. It’s been difficult to contain our enthusiasm, and the strain has been affecting our work, health, and personal relationships. To start off, here’s Associate Editor Lisa Ampleman:
I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Don Bogen chose “Exoskeleton” by Rebecca Lehmann as the first poem to lead off the poetry in our upcoming issue. It’s a knockout. Lehmann uses the repetend (a term one of my MFA professors used for repeated elements in a poem) of “I wanted you like . . .” to create movement. It’s an anaphora that happens at the beginning of sentences instead of lines, and because of enjambments, the repetition is more sinuous than metronomic as our eyes ride through, waiting for the next comparison. And the variety of those similes is startling—the “I” wanted the “you” like Henry VIII, like the garbage can, like a slutty tank top. This is no ordinary poem of desire thwarted.
For me, the poem turns when the speaker acknowledges, “I wanted the idea of you,/ that’s true.” The rhetoric of the sentences shifts after that, after the speaker tells us what we may already know: Desire, particularly unrequited love, means being drawn to the idea of someone, the version of him/her we have in our mind, rather than the actual person.