Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Megan Burns: Memorial + Sight Lines

Megan Burns
Memorial + Sight Lines

The water in this two part collection is on the rise, but the poetry acts as levee. Burns walking the saturated streets in memory, with or without an absolute for the bodies around her:

what is dead treads so close to us

a pile of sticks

mercury, boy messenger of the gods

with cupped hands

a Madonna with no shoulders upon

which her mantel rests

a sky blue mottled with words I would

put here to describe her fate

The poet sculpts in her memorial the artifacts of her neighborhood. Those that have found shelter and those who move with the waters current. Like Akhmatova witnessing the effects of the Gulag or Hitchcock filming the aftermath of the Holocaust, the poet here acts as medium for the world that is watching on television, dry and safe. The traceable language inside these stanzas are filled with detailed observation of objects and people. We Read:

floating the water-soaked

bodies both soft and rough

peeling skin in the grasp

what water can bear

I am willing to sing

and enough said

a monstrosity caresses

Burns communion with the weather lifts her voice in song. The delicate handling of single poems in the Sight-Lines section of the book shows the reach of her own poetic style in and out of mourning. Burns has crafted this book with the pieces that are now unrecoverable, resting easy in the world that shows light and dark equally. This book is a true triumph and lasting record for those who could not speak.

Gary Parrish

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