Hunger, my fifth volume of poems, will appear from MoonPath Press of Tillamook, Oregon, in late 2017. The book began as a response to the physical hunger which was a constant in my childhood, but the poems quickly grew beyond that narrow scope to address hungers of all kinds, especially the metaphorical hunger of longing as expressed in “The Extravagance of Our Longing,” the title of section three and of one of the poems in the section.
The book contains five parts. It has a feminist edge, the second section titled “Stealing from Young Women,” how various hungers in the world take from the lives of others and from the innocent, especially women. Section three contains poems I wrote after a family trip to Greece in 2007. I have marketed that section as a chapbook; it was twice a finalist in contests. Sections four and five address the many hungers of my childhood and my life as a mother, which continues in a different form now that my child is thirty with her own child. Social justice has always been a part of my writing; several poems in the manuscript pay attention to events in various tribal histories, seen from a personal point of view. My father took us kids to many reservations throughout the West when I was young. Physical hunger always accompanied these trips.
and if I could name this
in a frenzy of understanding
it would be called hunger
that sits in a woman’s spaces
writes Lucille Clifton. The book finds its life in the spaces Clifton evokes.
White of Air by Josie Gray will form the cover image of Hunger. (Image above)
Excerpt from Hunger
“The Extravagance of Our Longing”
The Temple at Bassae to Apollo Epikourios,
containing the first known Corinthian column,
was built by the Parthenon’s architect, 5th century B.C.
bassai–bowl between rocky outcrops
To give thanks for a plague’s end,
they quarried limestone from nearby hills,
raised their temple where this bassai gave way.
All day we’ve climbed from the sea
on switchbacks carved hillside to creekbed
into untamed Peloponnese. No guard rails.
Our bodies unfold from the car to face
the streaming wind of late afternoon.
September trees flame against the blue.
What confronts us is a huge tent,
sheltering these fragile remains
from frost heaves and acid rain.
We duck under thick guy cables,
step into the dim hush of a space
once Apollo’s—built to greet the sun.
Apollo was just with us at Olympia,
his hand draped companionably
on the shoulder of the sculptor who made him.
Here he lost his human form,
abstracted into the first Corinthian column.
Their god escaping them, his carvers
let their marble capital sprout leaves.
Even darkened, even missing the inner
repetition of Ionic,
this massive golden rectangle,
perfectly fluted Doric,
overpowers. No place for us to stay
as the sun slips toward ocean. We linger
outside, in the warmth released
from heaps of sorted stone, then let ourselves
be drawn once more into the windless quiet.
Two millennia have dissolved belief,
but these columns stand.
At the edges of the surrounding sanctuary
built by pilgrims, small depressions,
reservoirs, shelter crocus, spreading
their bright invasion into the sacred.
Like the builders, we want to feel
gods haunt this sunstruck refuge,
but it’s the temple which holds us,
the extravagance of their longing
unmistakable among its ruins.