Bitters is an extended quarrel with God, driven by the desire to recover what is banished to the marginal and apocryphal. In her third collection Seiferle claims whatever originates in the earth as an emissary of the divine, whether it is a starving boy in a supermarket or the maggots thriving in the skin of a cat.
Even houseflies must have their angels.
Principalities, at knee or elbow, the voice of God caught within an ear, at such a pitch,
it makes the skull hum. And if I swat them,
can they blame me? Like all good messengers,
they're just testing whether we are still alive.
By such means, the priest taught me, "God creates.
All the living and the dead, just a nursery
for his hatching." So when I found a trinity of maggots in the abdominal wall of a living kitten, though I had to pinch them out, I could not blame them—Shadrach,
Meshach, Abednego, pale witnesses of a homesick God, caught in the furnace of the flesh, hoping to sprout wings.
Against the background and harsh light of the desert Southwest or withing the darkness of European history and religion, Seiferle has created a new kind of beauty: tragic, wise, open to every possibility. And just as the liquor of the title are colorful, earthy draughts of distilled spirits with an ancient medicinal history, so too are they a fitting metaphor for these darkly humorous and curative poems.
Rebecca Seiferle 's The Music We Dance To was nominated for the Pulitzer prize and poems from the volume are included in The Best American Poetry 2000. Her first book, The Ripped-Out Seam won the Bogin Memorial, the Writers' Exchange, and the Writers' Union Poetry Prize. Her translation of Cesar Vallejo's Trilce won the 1992 PenWest Translation Award. She lives in Farmington, NM.
|Publisher:||Copper Canyon Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Rebecca Seiferle is the author of four books of poems and two volumes of translations of Cesar Vallejo. She is Lannan Fellow, editor of the online magazine The Drunken Boat, and recently taught at Brown University. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Table of Contents
|Face of the Leviathan|
|Parable of Snakes and Stones||11|
|The Mythology of Heavenly Messengers||13|
|Saint John of the Cross||14|
|The Making of Saints||15|
|"A lonely man in his greatness"||16|
|Ishmael Remembers Abraham||18|
|The Face in the Depths of the Desert||19|
|Signs and Wonders||20|
|If the Shroud of Turin Is a Fake||22|
|God, the Gardener||23|
|The Writing on the Wall||25|
|Law of Inertia||28|
|Face of the Leviathan||31|
|Voice in the Whirlwind|
|The City of Brotherly Love Is Neither||37|
|Galileo Was Finally Buried in the Body of the Church||42|
|Every Consecrated Head||46|
|My Spanish Children||49|
|The Laws of Patrimony||53|
|The Housewarming Gift||58|
|In the Village Where You Were Born||62|
|Voice in the Whirlwind||65|
|Between the Imagined and the Real||69|
|My Mother's Hip|
|My Mother's Hip||75|
|The Sacrifice Tree|
|At the Beginning||87|
|Room of Dust||96|
|The Sacrifice Tree||97|
|Heart of the Sky||100|
|The Blue Mustard||102|
|Daphne: or how the soul falls in love with what it will become||104|
|Galileo in the Year 2000||105|
|A History of Romanticism||109|
|The Worst Form of Ambition||118|
|The Dead Are Translated into Another World||119|
|"Let us go then, you and I"||120|
|Xena in Philadelphia: Isaiah's House||122|
|The Price of Books||127|
|The Artist of Willendorf||129|
|A Dram of Bitters||135|
|On a Winter's Night||137|
|What We Need Words For||139|
|Voice of the Sphinx||143|
|Caught in the Nets of Illumination||146|
|About the Author||157|