Hassett’s post-apocalyptic odyssey, through a fractured world of ruins and primordial reform, doubles as a valentine coded in hieroglyphics. Compelled by the nameless firelight (his “Beatrice”) that charges his heart and functions as an inner-compass, the narrator journeys forth, a survivor and witness. Textured, sonorous, and cryptic, Hassett employs a peacock’s palette of throbbing, vivid colors to render a world in flux, teetering between the future and prehistory.
The language effects a baroque lyrical swing, a Biblical bop that spirals and whorls and echoes the schizoid rhythms of the sea (now an opiate lullaby, now an inclement rush). Also, what benefits the work as a whole, is the author’s calculated spacing between clusters of language, allowing room for the brain to breathe, for words to respire, with stanzas sometimes floating like clipped prayers upon the page’s monastic whiteness.
You flowered off, your light/Farther the bearing sparks./Winds. They’ve taken you to smoke./Your Love, embering, gone glassy and sharp,/through my heart pressed for fear it loss.
It is these luminous echoes of his beloved that drives the narrator to continue journeying, to continue what is a rebirthing process. Beneath the oblique form of The Boundary Stone lies the heart of a hymn, the promise abiding every uttered syllable and cry: Love.
Upon my second reading of the work (which was so much richer when I read the words aloud), I recalled the passage from Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell:
In the dawn,/armed with a burning patience,/we shall enter the splendid Cities.
That those “splendid Cities” exist within, has been the seed and holy grail for many an inward journey, a tradition to which The Boundary Stone pays devotional respect.