Friday, January 31, 2020

Poem366: “Our Lady of the Flood” by Alison Pelegrin


Our Lady of the Flood by Alison Pelegrin

Our Lady of the Flood by Alison Pelegrin, Richmond, Virginia: Diode Editions, 2018

I’m still haunted by mental images of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and I think I always will be — this despite the fact that I know the Gulf region only as a tourist. But Alison Pelegrin’s Our Lady of the Flood offers an inside view of life afterwards, in poems that bring the waters inside of us so that we can feel them:

                              This water
is no silvered mirage. It clings like tar.
It swallows everything we are.

So says “Quicksilver,” the final poem in the small collection, winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing.

In her endorsement of the book, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil notes, “This collection vibrates with candor and concern—forging a kinetic blaze into an emotional and physical terrain newly devastated by hurricane.” This is an accurate assessment, beginning with the first and title poem (one of five “Our Lady” poems in the chapbook):

Some saints are untouchable behind glass,
but you ride in open boats
with mildew on the edges of your gown,
a calm commander of the Cajun Navy’s fleet.
Your devotees worship outside
in a circle of ruined pews,
no incense but bug spray, their voices
a cappella because the music of the drowned piano
is too sad to sing to. …

Pelegrin recreates the ruined landscape and its vespers in moments like these.

The poems are also celebratory, like “Rituals for Serving Ambrosia.” I’m guessing a lot of sophisticated readers have never heard of this chilled salad dish, containing pineapple, Jell-O, marshmallows, coconut, and nuts, but I love it, and it’s a surprising pleasure to see a tribute to it, set up on a card table in the garage with the rest of the picnic feast.

In the fascinating “Excising a Memorial to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee,” Pelegrin contemplates the legacy of the South as captured in statuary, and makes no bones about it: “Of course he’s got to go,” she writes. Yet there are memories attached to these old artifacts:

                  So why the scrap
of rebel in me clinging to this piss-soaked ground

where his pillar stands, Mardi Gras memory lane, where
I puked through my nose, observed rats untie shoes

and tunnel up some guy’s pants empty where the leg
should be? I never paid attention to Lee himself ….

In a place like New Orleans, there are layers of history that are visible in everything.

I really love how this collection lets the light shine in, along with the water. “Anything We Want” is a poem that highlights the goodness of people, with its subtitle “Katrina, 2005.” The poem begins, “When they figure out where we are from / everyone wants to give us something.” She recounts servers bringing dessert and singing “Happy Birthday,” strangers plugging quarters into her dryer, people following her through stores to pay for her items: “They won’t quit asking, What do you want?” And as Pelegrin describes so movingly, what she wants is her home with her books, her solitary seat on a street car, and for her mother to speak to her in the Walmart where they are exiled:

I want her to look at me
but her gaze is a storm cloud
threatening from far away,
or else focused up close
as she studies the label on a can
of a strange food we don’t eat.

Where is their ambrosia in their land of refuge? The way Pelegrin has written her home helps me to feel this mother’s loss.

5 comments:

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  2. طرق مضمونة لتنظيف السجاد
    شركة تنظيف فى ينبع

    من لا يحب سجادة جيدة؟ شركات تنظيف منازل فى ينبع بالإضافة إلى كونه ملحقًا ممتازًا للمفروشات دون أن يكون غازياً للغاية سباك بينبع ، فإنه في الشتاء يساعد أيضًا على توفير القليل من التدفئة ، مما يجعل الغرف دافئة ومرحبة. شركة تنظيف كنب بينبع المشكلة الوحيدة مع السجاد هي ، كما قد توقعت ، تنظيفها وصيانتها: يمكن أن يتراكم الشعر والغبار والشعر في نسيج السجادة ، مما يؤدي إلى الحساسية ويعزز تكوين الجراثيم والبكتيريا.
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بينبع

    إذا كانت لديك غرف بها سجاد ، فإن هذه المشكلة تصبح أكثر "خطورة" شركة تنظيف خزانات بينبع ، كونها أسطح أكبر مغطاة بوعاء من الغبار والبكتيريا: ومع ذلك ، ليس من الضروري اللجوء إلى التنظيف الاحترافي بأي ثمن. مع نصيحتنا ، في الواقع معلم المنيوم شاطر ، يمكنك الحفاظ على السجاد نظيفًا ومرتبًا ، وإزالة حتى أكثر البقع العنيدة ، باستخدام مكونات لديك في المنزل.

    ReplyDelete
  3. قبل أن تبدأ: 5 أشياء يجب معرفتها
    عاملات تنظيف بالساعه الكويت

    لا تفركي. من المهم التصرف في الوقت المناسب مكافحة حشرات العدان (أي في أقرب وقت ممكن) على البقعة لإزالتها بشكل فعال ، ولكن فرك البقعة في محاولة "مسحها" سيجعل الوضع أسوأ مواقع اعلانات مجانية في الكويت ، مما يجعل البقعة تخترق أعمق.
    نقل عفش صباح الاحمد

    الداب هو الخيار الأنسب. خدمة غسيل سيارات ٢٤ ساعه اسكب بعض الماء الفاتر على البقعة وامسحه بقطعة قماش أو قطعة قماش نظيفة. كرر العملية من الخارج إلى الداخل مظلات حدائق الكويت وقم بتغيير قطعة القماش بانتظام بمجرد اتساخها.
    تركيب السبوت لايت في الجبس

    ReplyDelete