|Genre||Collection (Poems) (110 pp.)|
|Keywords||Cancer, Caregivers, Children, Death and Dying, Empathy, Grief, Hospitalization, Medical Ethics, Memory, Mourning, Nursing, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Suffering, Survival|
This stark and sensual poetry collection is divided into three sections. The first, "Graveyard Shift," introduces the narrator's themes: the keen observation of suffering; the questioning of God's role in such suffering; the way caregivers and patients meld in shared moments of trauma; the struggle to integrate the reality of death and grief into a life outside the healthcare arena.
A longer second section, "Lessons," contains a chronology of poems that broaden the poet's themes. Suffering becomes personal through sexual abuse ("The Burning"), death of a baby ("To the Woman in the Next Bed," "Waiting Room," "Last Lullaby for the Dead Child"), and breast cancer ("Keeping Watch"); the mystery of God's role becomes the narrator's religious quest.
The final section, "The Ones Who Come," opens these themes to the universal: children and adults lost to "the holocausts" of war, poverty, and illness ("Lizard Whiskey: A Parting Gift from Viet Nam," "After the Siege," "The Ones Who Come," "The Man Who Stays Sane"), and how history repeats these cycles of birth, suffering, and death.
These poems--accurate, original, and surprising--are written from a fluid point of view. At times the narrator seems to be a nurse, at other times, a surgeon; she bathes dying babies, suspends hearts in her hand, rolls the dead to the morgue. In the second section, the poet is a child, a grieving parent, and a cancer patient, effectively bringing her observation of suffering and survival full circle.
The poems are remarkable for their preciseness, immediacy and the beauty of their images--the body becomes soul as well as flesh, and readers are brought into patients' rooms as breathless observers. Outstanding poems are numerous: in addition to those mentioned are "Anatomy," "Graveyard Shift," "Warming the Blood," "Mercy," "Keeping Watch," "Perennials."
|Publisher||New York Univ. Press|
|Place Published||New York|
|Miscellaneous||This collection was awarded the New York University Press Prize for Poetry.|
|Annotated by||Davis, Cortney|
|Date of Entry||02/15/00|