Saturday, October 13, 2012


This was the book I should have had for August, a Pulitzer Prize Winner.

This is also the type of book that I tend to devour at once in one sitting, then go back to again and again.

The thing that amazes me is how, since this is an autobiographical work, it takes the poet's life and makes it something so much bigger. As we read about the struggles of one person, we feel that they are so much more.

                    Have a taste:


Already the words are changing. She is changing
    from colored to negro, black stilly ears ahead.
This is 1966 -she is married to a white man -
    and there are more names for what grows inside her.
It is enough to worry about words like mongrel
    and the infertility of mules and mulattoes
while flipping through a book of baby names.
    She has come home to wait out the long months,
her room unchanged since she's been gone:
    dolls winking down from every shelf all of them
white. Every day she is flanked by the rituals of superstition,
    and there is a name she will learn for this too:
maternal impression -the shape, like an unknown
    country, marking the back of the newborn's thigh.
For now, women tell her to clear her head, to steady her hands
    or she'll gray a lock of the child's hair wherever
she worries her own, imprint somewhere the outline
    of a thing she craves too much. They tell her
to stanch her cravings by eating dirt. All spring
    she has sat on her hands, her fingers numb. For a while
each day, she can't feel an1'thing she touches: the arbor
    out back -the landscape's green tangle; the molehill
of her own swelling. Here -outside the city limits_
    cars speed by, clouds of red dust in their wake.
She breathes it in -Mississippi -then drifts toward sleep,
    thinking of someplace she’s never been. Late,
Mississippi is a dark backdrop bearing down
    on the windows of her room. On the TV in the corner,
the station signs off broadcasting its nightly salutation:
    the waving Stars and Stripes, our national anthem.

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