USEREVIEW 068 (Capsule): Alignment
Alignment (Rahila’s Ghost Press, 2021)
ISBN 978-1-98946-309-3 | 29 pp | $12 CAD — BUY Here
There’s violence in interpretation, and Alignment — a chapbook by disabled poet and essayist Ashley-Elizabeth Best, published by Rahila’s Ghost Press — sheds light on this violence with stunning and shattering insight. Not only does Best explore how language is interpreted, but she also explores the way in which a suffering mind and body are (mis)interpreted through language, and the pain that can compound as a result.
“My body is mispronouncing itself,” — so Best begins the poem, ‘Pathology.’ She goes on to write, “My words, always pale / reflections for the language of my organs.” The sentiments here, which reflect how language fails to adequately express bodily anguish, are an echo of an earlier poem “Good Sick/Bad Sick,” which ends with the lines, “Everyone wants to hear how your mind has betrayed you, / but there was no disloyalty, just little stories you didn’t know / how to tell.”
There is no existing language to readily express sickness in the mind or body, but in an interesting twist, Best does not seem to argue that attempts at expression are therefore futile. There are the little stories after all, and implied at the end of that line is that she didn’t know how to tell the stories, yet. Alignment then, could be viewed as her attempt at creating a language to tell her stories, and if so, she succeeds beautifully.
Check out ‘I Wanted’ (p. 7) to see how Best undercuts recovery as the ultimate narrative finish. Instead, she boldly and eloquently insists that we should be loved regardless of whether or not we get better.