Kristina Marie Darling sets the imagination ablaze in her newest work Vow. With a chorus of dark melodies, words come as beautiful colors, gripping scenes happen in mere words, and the haunting promise of the vow becomes exposed. This absorbing collection creeps down the corridors of the mind, illuminating the spaces that a broken vow leaves behind.
“So we bury our vows one by one. We are pieces of an altar collapsing from the inside.” Writing in a coolly detached rhythm, Darling’s understated voice takes hold of each moment, “I dream another me exists in the burning house, reading aloud from what I have written.”
A collection that sits a little more on the unconventional side, what’s especially enjoyable is the meaningfully placed white space and text placement. The non-traditional format supports the creative power of the book and even inspires thought on the concept of the imagination as a whole. Consider that the expectations we have for something—someone—are rooted deeply in our imagination. Darling meditates on just that, using media as metaphor for the way our minds idealize such a commitment:
I had always imagined the day would look like: velvet backdrop
onto which the landscape is projected like a sad film.
Somewhere in that picture, a declaration.
At once a part of our past and yet so cold and far away, Darling alludes to the disappeared society of yesteryear with motifs of silver keys, iron gates, and marble pillars. Putting this imagery alongside post-modern elements of film, projectors equates to a fascinating representation of the mind, “In a film version of this story, I wandered a corridor filled with locked rooms: endless foyers, a nursery, the master suite.”
Darling often writes directly to the audience, inciting further and more active thought on the reader’s part. Her haunting descriptions uncover what the aftermath of a shattered vow feels like, “Once the fire began, I tried lighting candles, but saw that the tiny wicks had been gutted from the wax.”
Sensory details like, “I no longer remember what fondant tastes like, or the weight of a bouquet in my hand,” help evoke a nascent state. Since it is almost impossible to talk about the mind without metaphor, true reflection cannot come without letting go, and narrative does the trick. This gets the reader to wholly contemplate what they are thinking about.
Vow is a truly enjoyable collection, one in which a continuous re-reading will beg more questions and the search within ourselves for the answers.