Monday, September 21, 2009

What I'm Reading: If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting

Back in December of 08, I linked to a poem by Anna Journey in 42opus, "Red-Haired Girl Wants You to Know." Since then, I've been waiting to read her first full-length collection, If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting. This weekend, while I was felled by the first cold/flu of the school year, Journey's book arrived with free and carbon-neutral shipping from Better World Books (hint, hint). Unfortunately, I had to wait out the storm of the sickness before I could really delve into the book.

This morning, at about 75% recovered, I couldn't wait any longer and I'm glad I didn't. Even reading in the faint haze of the after-fever, these poems levitate off the page. I admit I have a dog-earring habit. Yes, I write in my books, underlining lines that strike a chord and adding checks and stars. However, I also dog-ear those poems that I pause to read and re-read. With most books, this is a handful of poems, with Journey's it's a little ridiculous, as the top right corner of the book now bulges with flipped down pages.

What I love about this work: the revelation of one woman's making in this world, nothing hidden, nothing too personal, yet not focused on the confessional. Here we have birds, gardens, dead relatives, the devil, sexual awakenings and sexual maturity, and the dark, sometimes bitter, roots of the south.

Some lines:

from "My Great-Grandparents Return to the World as Closed Magnolia Buds"

They're back
by the soybeans, edging the delta from the dead,

keeping their clammy petals pulled
shut, like Klan hoods. A language
they labored to forget--Swedish was Natchez silt,

loam in the throat
their children never spoke.

from "Night with Eros in the Story of Leather (1)"

... Desire begins here
in bondage, in bougainvillea and its blunt mists

of ammonia that cuff my burning
eyes like a bride. Devil, I feel your svelte double crossings

rise from the coral bell vine.

from "Dissecting the Automaton"

I'm nurse, nurturer, old // knife-girl drawing the moon like iron through the far skylight.

If this isn't to your taste, I'll understand, but do consider supporting poets and poetry by buying a book this month or subscribing to a journal you love!

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