Azia Archer’s chapbook, Atoms and Evers is a journey through the vagaries of love, loss and whatever hangs between. Reading these poems, I felt an energy----they are fast paced, and one imagines the speaker of these poems breathless, animated, delicate hand on chest and hopeful even when doubting her very existence---“What is this skin I’m in? Whose hands?”
Archer’s words of full of life blood, the kind of emotion that feels at once visceral and by turns very far away, almost other worldly. The narrator is grounded, but also hard to hold down and seems to exist everywhere and nowhere at all:
a quiet moon
and the stars
are my barrettes.
I brush my hair
These poems exhibit the uncomfortable preoccupation most women have with the bodies that we inhabit---bodies that often do not please us, do not serve us well---and bodies we fear will not and do not serve those we love, either. These are poems that ask questions, that some of us will feel intimately as though we will know the answers to. We understand when the voice in the poem that asserts, in parentheticals, no less:
(I am wishing for less body.)
(I am too much body.)
TOO MUCH BODY.
Am I pretty yet?
Blood , teeth, lips, warm spaces , tongues, flames, aching thighs, I love you’s inhabit the framework of each poem, and we , the readers, are privy to painful moments of longing, but longing that is acutely tuned in to extreme highs and lows of attraction , and what makes love stay:
I’m passing through you know.
I don’t want to pass through you now.
These poems are at once thrilling, full of energy and seemingly deeply wrought from what we have as women in the world to offer ourselves, another and each other. Archer’s poems are full of images that are at once fantastical, but wholly relatable and words that resonate. Time is fluid, desire is a flame that both flickers and shines brightly at the same time, and “each breath is the moon pulling me closer to you.”
The definitions that punctuate this fantastic collection are startling markers into new emotions, such as “Mask,” “Atom,” and “Whole,” but the most poignant, in my humble opinion is “Regret: The inability to travel back in time.” Archer’s poems bring us back and forth emotionally, leaving us all better for the ride.
Atoms and Evers
By Azia Archer
Dancing Girl Press, 2017