Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Poem366: “Accommodations” by Sarah Carey

Accommodations by Sarah Carey

Accommodations by Sarah Carey, Tillamook, Oregon: Concrete Wolf, 2019

My mother’s celebration of life was today, so of course I wanted to turn my attention to something both gentle and deserving. I could not have chosen a better selection than Sarah Carey’s lovely chapbook, Accommodations.

Named to the Concrete Wolf Poetry Chapbook Award Series and published in 2019, Carey’s book deals with family and loss. It’s largely a sorrowful work, but sometimes sorrowful words provide the comfort and connection we need.

Almost every poem in the book calculates some sort of pain, usually the pain of losing someone. But some address other losses, as the marvelous list poem “What We Carry” demonstrates:

Some things we took for granted vanished
long ago: a store, a mall, a whole shopping plaza

an entire country we grew up in, moving
state to state, when welcome signs

marked the borders, and no one spoke
of red and blue intent …

This is a recognizable grief; it seems that at one point there was a country that looked like the one Carey describes.

Today, I was especially moved by “We Gather in Florida to Celebrate My Father’s Life” and its profoundly beautiful ending:

My father is salt and mineral, crushed bone.
We arrange to arrange to arrange.

Did you know, I told the gathered group,
flowers from each state he lived in flank the pulpit,
bloom today in all of them, in all of you:
dogwood, peony, forget-me-not.

Carey gets mourning exactly right here, and I’m struck by the translation of the father into salt and mineral. We’ll all get there eventually; my mom got there today, and I was glad for Sarah’s company as I dealt with that hard fact.

Carey presents one beautiful poem after another in this gorgeous, painful, but just-right collection, which I highly recommend.

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