I’ve had a frantic, unsuccessful week of trying to increase my “profits,” and ignoring my “leisures.” Yet somehow the fates spoke to me. My recent readings of the works of P.K. Page and the discovery of the publishing house of Wolsak and Wynn have led to previous posts here. But then as I raced by one of those “new books” sections and looked in between a collection of pulp novels, I discovered a copy of Her Red Hair Rises With The Wings Of Insects by Catherine Graham. Of course, I picked it up and had to talk about it here.
To The Animal He Met In The Dark (Page 1)
I’ve often thought about you.
How you came in the night, in the middle of the night,
to stand on the road for some goddamn reason.
How in the blinding light you stood as still as branches,
like anything trapped.
Nothing to see in the darkened windshield –
just the last expression on my drunk father’s face,
and you, white-tailed beast, reflected, just like that,
on your way through you own nocturnal route.
I have so often thought about you.
Most of the poems Graham’s has in this book, started off as glosas (The opening fours lines of another poet’s work are ‘woven’ into the last line of each of four ten line stanzas.) But Graham has added a lot of her own personal touch to each work. In many cases dealing with passion and trying to define that emotion.
Reading (Page 4)
He’s not done yet –
He tightens the rope and drops
his voice into my chest. I endure;
stare through closed dreams
I haven’t slept through yet –
Mouth tuned to the rhythm of a voice box
poet man needs no dais to look tall
to his locked-in audience.
I feel half-naked, my pelvis exposed
between the lines of each stanza.
Clouds shift to receive new registers.
Criss-crossed on my lap, my hands swell
as the room thins. I know what
happens happens – Him in me
circling like a wolf.
Graham writes in the introduction that she calls both Dorothy Molloy and P. K. Page her ‘spirit mentors’ while writing this book. Indeed she has extend their ideas into her work, but even Graham’s own words are enlightening.
Ache (Page 20)
So cold, so dry, where is
the echo of my echo?
The umbilical cord
is cut and I’m pure.
Father’s ears. Mother’s brow.
What is said to my future is:
I miss my slip of water.
This was a wonderful collection to read. No doubt I will be reading it again and again.
Snowfall (Page 39)
The snow holds light. Winter spins
into a trance. The sky can’t keep up
with the falling. The sifting
edges in waves to the roof below the pitch
of night the white shoots up.
Ironed moon. Smooth as the dew
hidden in each flake, each crystal imprint
of pedigree lace. Safe from the world, I hid
there all alone, till suddenly, I’m falling –
pores – flakes – riding the white drift;
spin calm into a bleach explosion.
I stutter under the gathering spell and wait
for pain to level things out –
the weight of an animal’s foot –
dark stirrings are welcome then.
It was a strange timing of fate that I found Her Red Hair Rises With The Wings of Insects by Catherine Graham but I am glad that I found it. It fed my intellectual need right now and I have no doubt I will be checking out more of her work.