Saturday, March 17, 2007

Laura Kasischke Again: "Wild Brides: Poems"

I lucked out and was able to find a copy of Laura Kasischke's out-of-print first collection Wild Brides: Poems. It's divided into four sections, each section prefaced with an epigraph from Euripides' Medea which sets the tone and underscores the subjects of that section. The epigraph of the first section is:

So you, Medea, wild with love
Set sail from your father's house.

Here's a poem from that section:


I see you will live an ordinary life, perhaps
have children, perhaps marry
a kind but un-
remarkable man. There
is a simple journey that waits for you
(Niagara Falls? Yellowstone Park?) Go
on it. Make
the decisions you have to make: paint
the upstairs bathroom blue, move
to Wisconsin. It doesn't matter.
But here, here in this crease, this crease
like a scar at your thumb -- here
I see something more.
The drapes in this room will be red
and torn. Close them. Let him
show you slowly to the bed. No
you'll say, it's daylight
and my simple husband trusts me.
Trust me -- this
is your moment -- the one
you'll remember (the hot breath
of the August breeze, the sun
white in the sky, the trickle of sweat
on his neck: it will turn to salt on your tongue).
This one you've held
and will hold all your life
though it cuts a bit at your thumb
like a single sliver of glass that glints
from a quarry of slate. You
will die someday, of course, slowly
not young not old. And before you're forgotten
the neighbors will speak of you fondly.
Now close your hand tight
on this secret. Die
with this secret but no regrets. Remember
this is how the small survive, the way
the small have slways survived.

* * *

The epigraph for the fourth section is:

Let the whole house crash.

Here is a poem from that section:

"Twenty-Ninth Birthday"

Suddenly I see that I
have been wearing my mother's body
for a long time now. It all
belongs to her, here where the skin
is softest and here
where it puckers in disgust -- each
inch. The very nails that pounded
her body to pieces
build me one just like it
and I have been wearing it
like a terrible house
and never noticed -- all of it
hers, except this mole on my arm --that
belonged to my father's mother
and it was left to me
to remind me that I
am one of those
witches, too, praying
in the dry face of the moon
while I walk around with death
in my big breasts, like them, full
already of my future scars
and pain and hallucinations
that shriek ahead like train tracks
past this naked house
across the self-pitying
pleasureless decades left.
I have turned my face to the wall to hide it
while you slip my father's
angry face over yours.


Blogger angie said...

Those are fantastic. Thank you so much, Howard. I see a marked difference between these first poems and the ones of Fire & Flower, which I'm reading again already! I'll start looking for this collection.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Rus Bowden said...

Yes, fabulous poetry. Thanks.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

remarkable, Hedgie.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

The more of her work I read, the more impressed I become with her work. I'm glad others find her pleasurable, as well.

11:01 PM  
Blogger BRYAN CLASS OF 1959 said...

Laura Kasischke: Thanks, Hedgie, for posting these. I had never heard of LK, but she's one of two 2009 Guggenheim Fellows in Michigan, listed April 9--so glad to learn of her work and read these, thanks.

5:03 AM  
Blogger mama quest said...

for sharing the
fiery blood and the
bloodless fire of women
twice, each seeming an ocean
apart from the other, but secretly same

in their spirits of yearning for things
distinct yet similar -- the most
opposite two can be --
through poetry

Sara Webb Quest, Author
Moving Back to Normal

“To hold the softest of the soft
is to grasp the boldest of the bold.” ~ Jason E. Quest

3:03 PM  

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