‘Queen’ by Amina Cain

A quilt of objects, layers, and gaps, ‘Queen’ is an anti-drama of monotony and dirt in the small and stagnant world of hotel chambermaids. Cain’s abrupt, often fragmentary sentences which insist upon their nouns, sometimes consisting only of nouns, stitch together a static drama of things, one beside the other and another and another in an assemblage that is perfectly contingent. There are human things and nonhuman things. They are nonhierarchical. People and objects have the same ontological and dramatic status, the same ability or lack thereof to move the plot. You could almost say nouns are the plot, a plot picked out in disconnected dots. Their separation, the space between—in that silence is the drama. For in this encounter between things, which isn’t at all obliged to happen the way it happens, bodies and roles and backstories and identities slip-slide into each other. Forms are exchanged. Relationships quietly light up the silences and become meaning in potentia. A juxtaposition suggests an unnecessary connection which suggests another and another till the story leaves its world: ‘Queen’ ends with Cain’s prose-objects side by side with a quotation from Clarice Lispector.

A quotation from Cain: “Objects. The tiny cameo necklace my grandmother gave me. Something Marguerite gives me, on paper. Keep it in your pocket, she says. I touch a wall. Make dinner for Marguerite. Eat quietly. A lamp on the wooden table. An album with sounds of geese, and then wolves howling. Eight o’clock . . . Overcast sky. Painting of a river scene, children with kites.”

Collected in Creature, Dorothy Project, 2013

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