Readers who were with me for my AWP posts know that Suzanne Frischkorn helped me kick off the conference by having dinner with me that first night in Denver. Suzanne is one of my blogger friends, blogging at Lit Windowpane, and it was a delight to meet her in person, finally! As dessert, I received my copy of Suzanne's new book, Girl on a Bridge. I'm only sad I couldn't read every book that I got in Denver (plus those remaining on my stack from before) simultaneously. Still, Suzanne's book was worth the wait.
It's appropriate that the first word of the title is "girl," but we are not dealing solely with the child-girl in this book. Instead, the word "girl" stands for all the complicated facets of the feminine, all the crossing overs we experience in our lives, and thus, the "bridge" becomes apparent as well. In this case the girl eventually becomes a wife, then an ex-wife, a wife again, and a mother. While the poems are always expertly crafted and with wonderful turns of the language, there is a sense of wildness caged here, of emotion contained.
The opening poem "Great Lash" begins with the speaker as a city teen exploring all the accoutrement of femininity & sexuality. It opens with the lines "Our cornfields were paved in asphalt, sulfur / lights snuffed our stars" and goes on to list moments experimenting with makeup and boys. The sentence "We were not sweet girls" is used as an effective refrain. These girls are the girls of my generation, when parents continued to have a life of their own and the nuclear family frayed or fragmented. The poem ends with this: "We were not sweet girls, no. If there had / been corn, or stars? Maybe the deep / sweet girlness would have surfaced--dreamy / fresh-faced girls--petals listening to rain."
As the book progresses, the girl grows into womanhood. There are poems of marriage and the aftermath of an ended marriage. Then, there are poems of new love and motherhood. None of these poems are sugar-coated; they all read as honest, true accounts.
Perhaps my favorite poem in the book is this one, which I'll leave you with.
The gulls swooped circles
above our house all morning.
not a touch of wing tips
in each loop, crisscrossing
the same radius for hours.
It's noon and the sky is empty.
I am round with superstitions.
I would rather use
the number 11 or 7
if given a choice.
I took Weed Avenue because it hugs
the bay in an S curve, and stopped
for geese crossing in circles
towards the guardrail.
I kept a silver Eclipse behind me
and face the Mercury traveling west.
This platinum band
will not slide past my knuckle.
The sapphire flanked in diamonds
cuts off my circulation
now, when I need the comfortof circumference most.
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girl on a bridge
Main Street Rag, 2010