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The Trailhead (Paperback)

P&S History > Humanities > Poetry

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages: 76
ISBN: 9780819579836
Published: 7th April 2020
Casemate UK Academic



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Song of the Husbands

for Henry


All winter the kind husbands hover

like mortgaged angels. One

smells gasoline in his sleep, would

be my lover. They want me


to be well. Specimen, they say, and

mean endearment. I row

into the flood. The vodka


turns the lemon to crystal, the

carp turn the pond to shit and hunger,

the lingerie turns the trunkful

of lingerie into a special trunk.

And the husbands, the husbands


If asked they will install a water feature.


I tend my minor art,

I push my sorrow cart,

the women sing to the women o'er the prison

walls: Daughters of Elysium!: as


I elysium myself to sleep and,

waking, wear a

poppy cast from silver around

my neck. I grow

ashamed of my teeth, I pawn, redeem,

pawn, redeem, shoo


deer from the poison hedge. Oh

leanmost season. Speak,

husbands; speak, cocked

honeys; speak!


"I'm learning to allow for visions," the primary speaker of The Trailhead announces, setting out through a landscape populated by swan-killers, war torturers, and kings. Much of the book takes place in the contemporary American West, and these poems reckon with the violence inherent in that place. A "conversion narrative" of sorts, the book examines the self as a "burned-over district," individual and cultural pain as a crucible in which the book's sibyls and spinsters are remade, transfigured. "Sacralization/is when things become holy, also/when vertebrae fuse," the book tells us, pulling at the tensions between secular and sacred embodiment, exposing the essential difficulty of being a speaking woman. The collection arrives at a taut, gendered calling - a firm faith in the power and worth of the female voice - and a broader faith in poetry not as a vehicle of atonement or expiation, but as bulwark against our frailties and failings.

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