Today’s poem comes from Four Blue Eggs, which won the 2013 Poetry Prize from Homebound Publications. It’s available now in its second edition (with a new cover).
The universe has banished us;
fragile gauze hair on tiny forearms
succumbs to renegade heat waves
and celestial currents, which now and again
sabotage our bones, flaking and peeling skin
like pastry dough. Until we forgo
our ambulant nomad ways, return
to fur, or learn to play possum, our doom
will find us roasted and sagging.
we should find our treeness, wear thick bark
and leaves that canopy over necks.
With years symmetrically bubbling
out of a center trunk, each milestone
would bear another ring of flesh
to shield the hemisphere’s burley snarl.
Losing the Summer
Winter enters the body and it collapses,
the blood cells attack, the fever leaves
the brain with its patterns of coils
and discs like a red stovetop,
an alphabet of rivers and branches.
This landscape, contoured for activity, settles
into animal hibernation,
while remnants of ancient languages howl
from the hospital monitor.
Like dried sap on a tree,
crusted, yet viable, a small scar has left itself
after the coma – such a thing is not
a deformity, but a bud:
a seed replanting its succulence,
an isthmus back to the world.
Come see me at Byrd’s Books on Sunday, June 3rd for a Book Club discussion of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory, which chronicles that lost summer. “Losing the Summer” is from Four Blue Eggs, which was a finalist for the 2013 Poetry Prize from Homebound Publications. The 2018 Poetry Prize is now open for submissions.
From Little Bound Books and Homebound Publications: The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory.
About the book:
I do not remember the tubes, the tests, or the icy cold of space.
I do not remember losing six months of my life.
At age nineteen, Amy Nawrocki returned from her first year of college, scribbled a few notes in her journal, and took a terrifying summer trip. She remembers one night of disorientation, then nothing until Christmas, when awareness slowly restarts. The Comet’s Tail is the story of these missing months: the seizures and fever spikes, the deep nothing of coma, and the unexpected, dramatic recovery. Memory is recreated around EEG transcripts and doctors’ notes, family vigils and blurry Polaroids. From her unique perspective, Nawrocki investigates the connections between memory, trauma, and identity. She illuminates what it means to truly return to consciousness in this extraordinary memoir of illness, healing, and writing over the blank pages of our lives.
Here are a few lines from my first college journal (blog exclusive)–a college girl’s perception of herself, nine months before the galaxies would close (for a while):
I’m cold. I’m lonely. I’m an elephant in a supermarket. I need, I need, I need. I’m a very selfish person. I’m so inefficient. I can’t do anything. I think I’ll write a poem now. Drink lots of coffee, and be a night owl tonight and write a brilliant essay about Achilles, godlike swift runner. . . . . I’ll look for that wacky pigeon again — the half dove, what a shame to be half a dove.
Minus the town square and the tavern, (or rather in honor of virtual squares and literary ephemera) here is The Comet’s Tail’s first offering.
Homebound Publications and Little Bound Books will release the Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory and ship pre-orders on Tuesday, April 10th.
Please support independent publishers like Homebound Publications and writers who want to share the tiny particles of our lives. Join the conversation.
We’re up to day 24 of this month’s 30/30 Project. Donate to my campaign. I need just $5 to reach $500.
As the year winds down, I’m looking forward next year’s release of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory. This will be one of two essays released by Little Bound Books, a division of Homebound Publications.
Kirkus calls it “a complex and compelling memoir.” Read the full review here.
As an enticement (Homebound is taking pre-orders), here is “In My Sleeplessness, I Hear an Opera” which is featured in Four Blue Eggs.
In My Sleeplessness, I Hear an Opera
In the beginning, I hear the darkness.
I’m crowded by the soprano’s knowledge
of body rhythms. I see E flat cry.
And then the light bulbs begin to sprout, one
by one, by the side of the stage where all
the presidents line up in order.
I know them by their thunderous tenors
because when eyelids magnetize, I do not
sleep. After that, I pretend I that I lie
in a coffin, my arms folded like white
linen in a closet oddly fitted
to the size of my body. I smell cedar.
But all this time I have been wondering
If my eyelashes have learned how to sing.
I’m reading a biography of L.M. Montgomery (by Jane Urquhart, Extraordinary Canadians Series), a poignant story of the writer’s life which makes her fiction even more meaningful. The new series Anne with an E is also worthwhile. One of my mother’s favorite books, Anne never made it to my bookshelf until I was much older. My parents, on my mother’s urging I’m sure, honeymooned on Prince Edward Island in 1970. To honor what would have been their 47th wedding anniversary, here is my poem.
The Resuscitating Tonic of Make-Believe
After the fifth or sixth closing of a now tethered
hardback edition, (her grandmother’s copy)
she sent Anne of Green Gables back
to the bookcase without ceremony or accolades
with only the guarded impulses of a pact
made between bosom friends: a girl and a book.
Even before her young lips knew
the timid inklings of what might
be later recognized as true love,
she had the entire exploit pinned down
like tissue paper patterned onto checkered gingham.
Someday, she’d bring him, her own Gilbert,
whoever he might manifest as, wherever
she might find him, to red clay sea cliffs of Anne’s
Prince Edward Island, leave the silk dress,
tuxedo jacket and champagne toasts behind
at the chapel, board the ferry and seek out
the lake of the shining waters, where fields
of tall grasses swoon in the breeze and hollyhocks
chime like wedding bells. But someday seems
an unreachable planet when one is thirteen.
The resuscitating tonic of make-believe begins
to peter out like a late August waterfall; thirsty
pragmatism piles up where once fluid imaginings
squeezed between a book’s secretive folds. Flipping
to the last page, she predicts that happily-ever-after
will look good pressed into malleable paper,
but such endings, with their achieved resolutions,
belong only to red-headed heroines, not real girls
who collect bookmarks and play tuba in the band.
The poem appears in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications; second edition 2017 is now available.
My poem, “What I forgot to Ask” was recently selected for the Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology di-verse-city. The poem found its way into the world after I watched a peregrine falcon lunch on a nuthatch in my front lawn. The nuthatch is unconfirmed, and “lawn” is a generous term for the smattering of beeches and oaks in front of the house.
I missed the reading in Austin, but I’ll savor anthology when it arrives–a long list of talented poets. To order a copy click here. Celebrate National Poetry Month with a bird, cat, human, or mouse of your choice.
(photo courtesy of National Geographic)
What I Forgot to Ask
I do it all the time, mistake flight for freedom;
escape for repentance. If only,
like a peregrine, I didn’t have to explain
my silences or defend my stealth. She descends
cliff ledges with confidence under cover
of camouflage. I cannot leave
this nest of caked mud and broken twigs
or cradle the updraft between fingers.
Too much captivity makes a girl tired.What language do you have
What language do you have
for the barren days when nothing catches your eye,
when speed doesn’t win? Is there ever an hour
when you want no wings? to tuck feathers away
and wobble on talons like a cripple?
Tell me about the wind, the kind
that quiets fear and lengthens your cries
into inaudible whispers. When do you rest?
For more peregrine inspired work, see my essay “Choosing Peregrine” in the Homebound Publications anthology, Wildness: Voices of the Sacred Landscape