OPP #13: Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall’s poems take the reader to places both jarring and comforting in their familiarity. Her books The Rookery and Our Lady of the Ruins are in heavy rotation in my re-read pile for their striking imagery, their haunting tone, and their proclamations of things I think I should have known long before I read her lines.

The Rookery holds a series of aubades, which I adore, so I will share one of them here.

Aubade with a Broken Neck

The first night you don’t come home
summer rains shake the clematis.
I bury the dead moth I found in our bed,
scratch up a rutabaga and eat it rough
with dirt. The dog finds me and presents
between his gentle teeth a twitching
nightjar. In her panic, she sings
in his mouth. He gives me her pain
like a gift, and I take it. I hear
the cries of her young, greedy with need,
expecting her return, but I don’t let her go
until I get into the house. I read
the auspices the way she flutters against
the wallpaper’s moldy roses means
all can be lost. How she skims the ceiling
means a storm approaches. You should see
her in the beginnings of her fear, rushing
at the starless window, her body a dart,
her body the arrow of longing, aimed,
as all desperate things are, to crash
not into the object of desire,
but into the darkness behind it.

*

Oh, that ending. That the object of desire is not the object but the losing oneself. And the images that evoke the senses usually not addressed in a poem – the reader can taste the rutabaga still dusted with dirt, feel the still papery wings of the moth, the frightened trembling of the nightjar. I even love the choice of bird – nightjar – a thing that holds the dark.

Please do yourself a favor and read more of Traci’s work. You can find several links to online poems at her website.

*

If you want to write:

1. Try writing an aubade or a serenade with a body part. An aubade is a morning love song, as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening, or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn.

2. Write a poem that contains two animals, a vegetable, and an insect.

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4 thoughts on “OPP #13: Traci Brimhall

  1. I, too, love these collections, and this is just the poem I needed to read this morning. Thank you, Donna.

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