Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going – Book Review

Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going – Jessica Jacobs

There is an un-silencing of queer southerness that is desperately needed. Needed as in: life or death. And there is an enormous need for space to unravel and reravel ourselves as we try to hold the weight of every identity that defines us. It is layered and it is heavy and we need room. Every now and then there are words that allow us to soak in all of who we are, all at once like that; in that moment, the space we need forms around us. Jessica Jacobs’ Take Me With You, Wherever You’re Going does exactly that.

“A Florida child knows the safest part
of the lake is the middle. That gators
and moccasins shade in the lilies, hunker
at the shoreline…”
.                                        from “Primer”

“In the middle” is exactly where I find myself while reading this collection. Jacobs’ commanding, yet gentle, voice drops me wholly into the wild thickness that is a southern queer woman’s love. A growing love that grapples with the dangers on the edge of the lake, while simultaneously creating a cool calming spring from which to take it all in. A balance of comfort and fear and so much joy.

“my mouth to you was every water
I’d ever tasted”
.                                        from “Out of the Windfields”

This collection does not fall short in its depiction of the joys of Jacobs’ marriage to her wife. The sensual moments are described vibrantly and spring-like, her relationship like the most vital conversation of her life. There is no mistaking the sincerity with which every word is written. The pages drip with hope. And for any woman hoping to have a wife one day, this journey will surely resonate especially so, as it has with me.

Please, you cold slate tiles. Please,
heavy benches with you clear shellac. Baffled
skylight letting the light in, letting my words
out; please, don’t take her from me.
.                                       from “In the Days Between Detection and Diagnosis”

There are sun-kissed swimming fears and unrequited love fears, but then there are oncology waiting room fears. A fear that resonates with so many and yet is so personal, intimate for each individual. Jacobs’ telling of this part of her story is heart-wrenching. Paralyzing, even. Although, within the stillness, the prayer she offers up feels like movement: the letting in of light and the letting out of words. These poems breathe. And while reading them, I felt more aware of my own breathing too.

“For what is it to move in time
with one another, to acknowledge and learn

a body beside your own–the dancing apart
and the final coming back

together–what is this if not
.             some kind of grace,

some human-sized serving of God?”
.                                        from “On Our Nightly Walk, She Takes My Hand”

Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going generates the kind of emotion you would expect from fantastic poetry, and it does so through its almost constant display of place and movement: running past wind turbines, walking through cities, entering skin that enters you back. And the whole work moves chronologically, but not like a timeline so much as like ripples. Ripples that start with two people running through winter, neither toward each other or away from each other, but end: two wives hand-in-hand on their nightly walk, moving forward in time together.

Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going is available now from Four Way Books


Reviewed by Alesha Dawson