Apocalypse, Darling

Apocalypse, Darling

by Barrie Jean Borich
Apocalypse, Darling

Apocalypse, Darling

by Barrie Jean Borich


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From award-winning author Barrie Jean Borich comes Apocalypse, Darling, a narrative, lyric exploration of the clash between old and new. Set in the steel mill regions of Chicago and in Northwest Indiana, the story centers on Borich's return to a decimated landscape for a misbegotten wedding in which her spouse's father marries his high school sweetheart. The book is a lilting journey into an ill-fated moment, where families attempt to find communion in tense gathering spaces and across their most formative disappointments. Borich tells the story of the industrial heartland that produced the steel that made American cities, but also one of the most toxic environmental sites in the world.

As concise as a poem and as sweeping as an epic novel, Apocalypse, Darling explores the intersection of American traditional and self-invented social identities and the destruction and re-greening of industrial cityscapes. Borich asks: can toxic landscapes actually be remediated and can patriarchal fathers ever really be forgiven? In a political climate where Borich is forced to daily re-enter the toxic wastelands she thought she'd long left behind, Apocalypse, Darling is an urgent collision of broken spaces, dysfunctional affections, and the reach toward familial and environmental repair.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814254622
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Series: Machete
Edition description: 1
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Barrie Jean Borich is the award-winning author of Body Geographic and My Lesbian Husband. She is an Associate Professor of creative writing and publishing at DePaul University in Chicago, where she edits Slag Glass City, a digital journal of the urban essay arts.

Read an Excerpt

Wasteland Oasis

Indiana 2008

If we were to arrive at this wedding by helicopter here’s what we would see.

An expanding patch of unnatural green. Neon green. Denial-of-impending-annihilation green. An over-bright amoeba, surrounded by the stacks of Northwest Indiana. Windowless steel mills, smoke spume, ground that appears as if the skin has been scraped away, a rusty, gouged tableau, wasteland gray interrupted by the peacock blue painted exterior of U.S. Steel Gary Works—as if someone in charge had consulted with a home decorating guru. Shall we try blue, Darling? Costume-party, feather-boa blue? Blue to accent these badlands that would stretch all the way to forever, except for the khaki bumper of Lake Michigan.

This decimated plain, punctured by the green of the golf course, is where my father-in-law, age seventy-five, is about to wed his long-lost, newly found, pinkly smiling, high school sweetheart, in the presence of middle-aged children who would not exist if this father, and this mother, had married each other the first time they were in love.


Byway, Skyway

Illinois/Indiana 2008

Of course we don’t arrive by helicopter. Linnea and I fly from Minneapolis to Chicago, then drive the rest of the way to her father’s wedding.

The quickest way to get to the communities lining the Indiana Dunes from downtown Chicago is via the byway of the sky. The western entry to the Indiana Toll Road is an elevated highway built on a scaffolding that laces into the far Southeast Side, a steel filigree supporting the highway up and over the old steel workers’ city. Even knowing what’s ahead, the highway inclining under the wheels of the car as it passes through the toll gate, the signage making clear that this is the exit onto the SKYWAY, it’s still not immediately apparent that this is not just a road but a bridge breaking into open air, so then a shock, the way first the old East Side port and then downtown Gary open beneath us, a pictorial centerfold. Gary is a splay of old-century granite stitched together by the steel docks and bridge girders, contained by the jade release of Lake Michigan, cleaner now than when I was a girl, capped by the granulated blue of a mill-punctured sky.

Linnea is driving. I slap her on the shoulder as the Skyway rises over the centerfold. I hadn’t expected we’d motor into such familiar and unfamiliar cleaving. We are driving toward a gathering of her side of the family, but driving through the Old Country of mine.

When I was teenager I often ended up on the Skyway by accident, veering onto the wrong exit south from the Loop, usually late at night, my car full of friends, likely drunk or high, when the yellow streetlights cast a dingy pall over the toll bridge gates, suggesting the gateway into Hell or at least Purgatory. Once you enter the Skyway in south Chicago there are no exits until Hammond, Indiana, so those lit-up CHICAGO SKYWAY letters over the toll plaza caused my stomach to tighten. Where am I? Do my friends think I’m a bad driver?

                                                How do I get off, out, home?

By comparison, on this June afternoon, the sky could not be a crisper blue. I could stay in this hanging moment forever, Linnea’s steady, square hands clutching the steering wheel, the windows rolled up so as not to muss my shoulder-length hair I’d so carefully flat-ironed in her sister’s bathroom, back on the shinier side of the city where we’d spent the night, my chest, overexposed in my low-cut sundress, goose-pimpling in the breeze of the air conditioning, the Skyway incline out and over, the spread of old avenues opening, hail forgotten city, full of grace.

I almost forget we have someplace to be.

Table of Contents

Part I Mixing Memory with Desire

Wasteland Oasis, Indiana 2008 3

Byway, Skyway, Illinois/Indiana 2008 4

His Not Daughter, Minneapolis 1987 6

Trouble, Chicago 1985 8

Best Man, Indiana 2008 10

Pink Lady, Minneapolis 2008 12

Swede in Our Shower, Minneapolis 1995 16

What's Present in Time Future I, Chicago 2015 17

Annihilation Pending, Minneapolis 1988 18

Visible Grace, Calumet, Illinois/Indiana 1950-present 20

Enter the Chapel, Indiana 2008 21

Part II In Which Sad Light

The Cruelest Month, Post-Industrial North 2008 25

Dune-ality, Indiana 1977 27

The Apocalypse, Darling, Interior Landscapes 1959- 29

The Bee-U-Tee-Full Old Country, Indiana 2008 30

Women's Work, North Suburban Chicago 1988 33

Swedish Italian, New Jersey/Michigan/Illinois 1960s 35

Don't Ask Don't Tell, Interstate 1980-2008 36

The Children's Crimes, According to the Father, as Imagined by the Daughter-in-Law He Does Not Acknowledge, Minneapolis 2008 38

What's Present in Time Future II, Chicago 2015 40

The Violet Hour, Indiana 2008 41

Part III Nothing with Nothing

The We Who, Indiana 2008 45

Unreal City, Minneapolis 1987-Yesterday 47

Lilacs Out of a Dead Land, Indiana 2008 49

Laquearia, Indiana 2008 51

O City, City, Minneapolis 2007 53

BurningBurning, Illinois or Indiana Mill Country, 20th or 21st Century 55

The Tattoo Merchant, Inside an Inaccurate Indiana Fantasy 2008 57

The Golf Course Nuptials, as Imprecisely Recalled with Undisguised Bias, and without Approval from Her Spouse, by the Daughter-in-Law the Groom Has Not Yet Acknowledged, Indiana 2008 59

Part IV What the Water Said

Shantih, Indiana 2009 65

Part V Fragments Against Ruins

Post-Nuptial, Indiana Golf Course 2008 71

Post-Apocalypse, The Rain, Indiana 2008 74

Post-Mortem, Re-Migrations 2008 76

Post-Traumatic, These Fragments We Shore 2008 79

What's Present in Time Future III, Chicago 2015 81

Post-Photographic, The Photographer's Reformation 2008 82

Post-Industrial Dunes, Memory and Desire 1976 and Now 84

Notes on the Text 87

Acknowledgments 91

About the Author 93

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