Native Guard: Poems by Natasha Trethewey

By Natasha Trethewey

Growing up within the Deep South, Natasha Trethewey was once by no means advised that during her native land of Gulfport, Mississippi, black infantrymen had performed a pivotal position within the Civil struggle. Off the coast, on send Island, stood a fortress that had as soon as been a Union legal housing accomplice captives. keeping the fortress was once the second one regiment of the Louisiana local Guards -- one of many Union's first professional black devices. Trethewey's new booklet of poems can pay homage to the warriors who served and whose voices have echoed via her personal life.

The identify poem imagines the lifetime of a former slave stationed on the castle, who's charged with writing letters domestic for the illiterate or invalid POWs and his fellow infantrymen. simply as he turns into the safeguard of send Island's reminiscence, so Trethewey remembers her personal youth because the daughter of a black lady and a white guy. Her mom and dad' marriage used to be nonetheless unlawful in 1966 Mississippi. The racial legacy of the Civil battle echoes via elegiac poems that honor her personal mom and the forgotten heritage of her local South. local defend is haunted by way of the intersection of nationwide and private experience.

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Mothers—Poetry. I. Title. 0612 Excerpt from "Meditation on Form and Measure" from Black Zodiac by Charles Wright. Copyright © 1997 by Charles Wright. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. For my mother, in memory Memory is a cemetery I've visited once or twice, white ubiquitous and the set-aside Everywhere under foot... —CHARLES WRIGHT THEORIES OF TIME AND SPACE You can get there from here, though there's no going home. Everywhere you go will be somewhere you've never been.

She is barely sixteen, her one large grip bulging with homemade dresses, whisper of crinoline and lace, her name stitched inside each one. She is leaving behind the dirt roads of Mississippi, the film of red dust around her ankles, the thin whistle of wind through the floorboards of the shotgun house, the very idea of home. Ahead of her, days of travel, one town after the next, and California—a word she can't stop repeating. Over and over she will practice meeting her father, imagine how he must look, how different now from the one photo she has of him.

So I try taking, not to let go. You'll be dead again tomorrow. The Erebus I keep you in—still, trying— I make between my slumber and my waking. It's as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow. I was asleep while you were dying. AT DUSK At first I think she is calling a child, my neighbor, leaning through her doorway at dusk, street lamps just starting to hum the backdrop of evening. Then I hear the high-pitched wheedling we send out to animals who know only sound, not the meanings of our words—here here— nor how they sometimes fall short.

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