It is hard, admittedly, to finish a creative nonfiction book. Perhaps because they are driven by emotions—often dominantly singular, negatively singular: hatred, loss, anger. These emotions wittingly, consciously creep into the reader and weigh her down with heaviness and sighs, rendering her helpless and boneless to the point that taking a break from the book is necessary. That is how I feel mostly with narratives detailing collective pain: diaspora, slavery, racial discrimination, corruption, death, violence, injustice. James Baldwin’s. Jamaica Kincaid’s. (And perhaps Joan Didion’s. No, I haven’t read the pile of Didions for the sheer reason that it is not the […]
Louise Glück | Penelope’s Song Little soul, little perpetually undressed one, Do now as I bid you, climb The shelf-like branches of the spruce tree; Wait at the top, attentive, like A sentry or look-out. He will be home soon; It behooves you to be Generous. You have not been completely Perfect either; with your troublesome body You have done things you shouldn’t Discuss in poems. Therefore Call out to him over the open water, over the bright Water With your dark song, with your grasping, Unnatural song—passionate, Like Maria Callas. Who Wouldn’t want you? Whose most demonic appetite Could […]
Ho Xuan Huong | The Jackfruit I am like a jackfruit on the tree. To taste you must plug me quick, while fresh: the skin rough, the pulp thick, yes, but oh, I warn you against touching— the rich juice will gush and stain your hands *** Ho Xuan Huong | On Sharing a Husband Screw the fate that makes you share a man. One cuddles under cotton blankets; the other’s cold. Every now and then, well, maybe or maybe not. Once or twice a month, oh, it’s like nothing.
Adrienne Rich | Women My three sisters are sitting on rocks of black obsidian. For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are. My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession. She is going as the Transparent lady and all her nerves will be visible. My second sister is also sewing, at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,