Evidence of Flossing, WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND provides an unexpected metaphor for individual life, culture, and so much more. Nearly all the poems are accompanied with a photograph, often of trash in which lays a dental flosser (yes, one of those instruments with which you floss your teeth) with date and location. Flossing is supposed to prevent anything from being left behind. Hence, the title brings up an unusual play on words.
The first section Damage contains more than 20 poems which are a lament about much of modern life–mass shootings, the demise of wildlife, unpleasant changes. One poem asks the question: “Would God floss?” In the second section, Contact, the poems focus on the natural world, walks in the city, the woods, beaches. The third section, Connection, emphasizes the interconnectedness of everything, especially the relationships between humans and animals and nature. There are poems about frogs, storms, birds. One called Evidence of Fairies makes the reader feel the magic of old growth forests with moss and ancient trees. In the footnote to another poem she discusses the fact that wolf spiders actually create songs to lure lovers. Then, toward the end, the Alice poems appear, Alice as in “Alice in Wonderland”. In my favorite poem Payne relates her encounter with a stranger picking oyster mushrooms near a path in the woods.
After reading the poems and comments in this book, I will never view flossing the same way again. Will I find dental flossers now, something I never even previously thought about? I use those long strings of floss not flossers. Apparently the poems and flosser photos affected enough people that some sent Payne photos of flossers they saw here and there on the ground, some of which she has included in the book.
Even if I find no flossers, now I will certainly give a lot more thought to what I and others leave behind.
About the author: Jennifer Payne is the owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company in Connecticut. She belongs to the Arts Council of Greater New Haven as well as several other arts and poetry organizations. Her work has been featured in various publications, including The Aurorean, Six Sentences, and the Story Circle Network. You can read some of her writing on her blog Random Acts of Writing.