Thursday, October 9, 2008

October Poem of the Month: Resurrection, by Amy George


Resurrection, by Amy George

I don’t remember
when you grew wings…
when they flared out
from your back
above the stab wounds
now only scars.
I just remember your eyes,
how they glowed with
Easter morning,
lightning striking
the same place twice,
though years had fallen
in between.
There was beauty
and trembling
past the bruises,
cynical voices
shattered by an empty tomb.
I remembered the basement,
his hands on your small body.
And I wept to see you
lift up the little girl
you held inside,
her tears now only a memory.

Not even the world,
with all its gravity,
could hold you.

Comments, by Edward Nudelman
This taut little narrative poem by Amy George, with its interesting second person point of view, is strongly personal and experiential; so much so, it nearly defaults into first person. That is to say, while the reader can identify with the ‘you’ in the poem as being a very close family member (or a close friend) of the speaker, the frame of reference can easily devolve into the "I/me", where the voice is seen as referring to self. As such, the poem lends itself to heightened immediacy and a certain tension that would not have otherwise materialized in the first person. Second person POV is difficult to pull off. Often the poem sounds didactic or even maudlin. This is not the case with Resurrection.

This is a poem that speaks to how we heal; how scars are removed. There is a transcendency in tone that is not specifically identified. Details are not given, or belabored, thus heightening the reader’s notion of what’s going on. It makes you want to rush on to the ending (a good thing!) We understand in the very first verses that wings ‘flared out’ where there were once stab wounds, a very elegant and visual framing, setting the tone of the poem which is reserved and restrained. As if to say, these things happened, and this is the way they affected you. And that’s that.

So what is happening in the poem? The allusions to sexual abuse ocurr near the end of the poem, “his hands on your small body,” and ties in the earlier reference of stab wounds. “There was beauty and trembling past the bruises,” adds focus to the central theme of the poem, which is overcoming calamity, moving through un-navigable waters. But not just surviving. Coming through with grace, beauty.

There is, alongside this profile of coping, a second theme of resurrection, made central by the title, and also bolstered in the placement of the event on Easter, or at least describing it in the context of Easter ('I just remember your eyes,how they glowed with Easter morning'). The poem heightens and perhaps shifts in tone in, “Lightning striking the same place twice, though years had fallen in between,” an interesting juxtaposition of the terror of the event, and perhaps the path to liberation as seen through the resurrection: of moving from death to life. Further, there is this reference to a tomb, another Christian metaphor, but not necessarily restricted to that meaning. Hence, we can see how the speaker sees her subject moving beyond the tomb, a darkness and repository for death, as the little girl that was “held inside,” somehow finds a way past her tears. This is finally brought home in a powerful way in the closing strophe:

Not even the world,
with all its gravity,
could hold you

Not scars, but wings. Not death, but resurrection. Not trapped in the world, but freedom for flight. What I like about the poem is its closeness. I couldn’t help reading it as a biographical catharsis. Or better, a biographical record. The speaker seems to be telling us that there is a path beyond the dead-end scars of sexual abuse. For her, that crystallization commands the strength and power of the poem. It is a poem for those who struggle. A poem that identifies extreme exposure and need, and offers hope.

Brief bio, in Amy’s own words:
Amy L. George holds an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. Her poetry has been published in various journals including Poesia, The Orange Room Review, The GNU and Word Catalyst Magazine and is forthcoming in Pennsylvania English. She is the general editor of Bird's Eye reView and also on the editorial staff for The GNU, the student literary journal of National University. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two psychotic cats.