Geology is horny. That is my immediate takeaway from Dyke (geology), a brilliant new chapbook from Sabrina Imbler that blurs lines between bodies and lands. It is a simultaneous examination of self and of the earth, detailing the rich, queer arc of a volcano named Kohala. It’s a volcano’s coming out story, and she’s ready to scorch the earth.
With Dyke (geology), Imbler makes space for queer science and demystifies scientific writing to the point of making it poetic. She traces personal relationships with scientific specificity and observes science with emotion. Earth, rock, lava become alive things here, the melding of body and geology resulting in crisp imagery. “Bleeding silica,” “volcanoes belch,” “thirsty earth,” she writes. Her use of language is intoxicating but also simple. And yes, very horny. Surreality and science collide, and the lyricism makes for an immersive but quick read. It’s easy to disappear into the cracks of this book. Nature is violent and sexy, and bodies are, too. Mess and beauty intermingle in the sentences here. There’s sensuality in the pages, and there’s also shame. Contrasts and parallels crackle throughout, and Imbler weaves them all together masterfully.
It also manages to cover a striking amount of ground in just seven fragmented sections, coming in at under 25 pages. The second I finished, I knew I would return to it soon. Queer theory and geology aren’t super obviously linkable topics, and yet Dyke (geology) throws them together organically and approachably. In one passage, dormant volcanoes smash up against the concept of “lesbian bed death.” In another, strap-ons become crystals. The colonization of Kohala happens alongside a racist interaction with an ex.
And Imbler manages to weave together more than just autofiction, geology, and queer theory. There’s also etymology, history, anthropology, astronomy. All of it lives together on the page.
And have I mentioned it’s horny?! This particular dyke was thoroughly turned on by descriptions of geological dykes a.k.a “a sheet of magma born in a fracture,” as Imbler explains and then swiftly follows with “…best understood as the veins of a volcano, coursing hot and varicose toward the surface to erupt.” Though I did own a rock tumbler at one point, I do not consider myself a science dyke, and you absolutely do not have to be one to marvel at this book.
Who knew volcanoes could be so queer? Who knew science could be so sexy and bodies could be so terrestrial? Dyke (geology) knows these secrets well and unspools them with dexterity. It’s short, tangy, and sharp-edged. A celebration of all kinds of dykes.