Native Guard: Poems by Natasha Trethewey

Native Guard won the Pulitzer.  It's an amazing book too.  Halfway through the book, I realized many of the poems were formal verse.  Trethewey handled the forms and rhyming so skillfully it didn't get distract.  Many of the poems deal with race, the South, the past.  The subjects are placed frankly into the sightline of the reader.  The emotional impact is strong, but not overdone.  This is not only a good book, it's an important book.  Buy here.

 

From "Native Guard"

Truth be told, I do not want to forget / anything of my former life: the landscape's / song of bondage--dirge in the river's throat / where it churns not the Gulf, wind in trees / choked with vines. I thought to carry with me / want of freedom though I had been freed, / remembrance not constant recollection. / Yes: I was born a slave, . . .

 

From "After Your Death"

First, I emptied the closets of your clothes, / threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised / from your touch, left empty the jars // you bought for preserves. The next morning, / birds rustled the fruit trees, and later / when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem, // I found it half eaten . . .

 

From "Photograph: Ice Storm, 1971"

Why the rough edge of beauty? Why / the tired face of a woman, suffering, / made luminous by the camera's eye? // Or the storm that drives us inside / for days, power lines down, food rotting / in the refrigerator, while outside // the landscape glistens beneath a glaze / of ice? Why remember anything / but the wonder of those few days, . . .