Tour of the Breath Gallery: Poems

Tour of the Breath Gallery: Poems


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Tour of the Breath Gallery: Poems by Sarah Pemberton Strong

In her first volume of poetry, novelist Sarah Strong celebrates silence and what can be learned when we wait and listen. In this stillness, she shows us, we may hear answers to questions we have learned not to ask. Exploring how our subtlest gestures speak our most passionate concerns, she maps the intricacies of body—the fingers of a hand, the work of breathing—with the same dexterity she investigates what inspires a mother to demolish a kitchen wall or a lover to change genders. Strong also examines spiritual experience—in Buddhist practice, in re-imagined biblical narratives, and in the details of daily life. Formally alert and often funny, Tour of the Breath Gallery relies on the music of everyday speech as it charts the interplay of the domestic and the sublime with a wise and generous grace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780896727946
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Publication date: 05/16/2013
Series: Walt McDonald First-Book Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Sarah Pemberton Strong is the author of two novels, Burning the Sea and The Fainting Room. Her poems have appeared in Mississippi Review, RATTLE, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, and other journals. A poetry editor for New Haven Review, she lives near New Haven, Connecticut, with her spouse and daughter. Licensed as a master plumber, she is also a one-person plumbing company.

Read an Excerpt


This is where it all arrives, stacked

like baggage at its final destination.

With the weight of the claimed:

those so expensive

boots that never fit right, the set

of socket wrenches that were free

with a checking account.

Everything down here is yours:

the mildewed boxes labeled Christmas Cards,

the wedding dress saved in a body bag.

That can of paint you descended

these badly lit stairs to retrieve

is hidden behind that tent there, its stakes

and poles long gone, duffled beneath

the battered kitchen table at which you

and your father watched Nixon resign.

And there beside the furnace

is your broken-zippered luggage,

which someday you might even drag

to the curb, abandoning it though it bears

what used to be your address, on tags attached

to handles whose leather

is worn out from being carried.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

1 Moving a Baby Grand 3

Basement 5

White China Cup on Windowsill with Chipping Paint 6

On Gaining a Sense of Smell 7

Pool 8

Eve Recollects Some Events Leading Up to the Birth of Her Child 9

My Daughter Thinks I'm Jesus 10

Fish Tank 12

Child's Self-Portrait 14

After the Meditation Retreat 16

Losing a Tooth 17

Delilah's Mother Gives Her Girl a Haircut 18

Cold Tea 20

Tour of the Breath Gallery 21

2 Another Thing That Amazes Me 25

In Our Bed 27

Needs 29

Nest 31

The Annealing 33

Long Distance 34

After Leaving San Francisco 35

Noah's Wife Writes in the Ship's Log 36

The Cynic at the Wedding 37

On Missing the Wedding of My Oldest Friend 38

Defenses 39

The Tyranny of Ideas 40

There's Flying 41

Hymn to the Body 42

Come Out of There 44

Why I Learned the Trade 45

3 Fixing a Lamp 49

My Enemies 51

Poem to My Grandfather's Son 52

Lot's Daughters Remember Their Mother 53

After 75 Years, She Finally Gets Angry 55

Aquarium 56

Another Morning Just Outside the Garden 58

Joseph Attempts to Teach the Boy Something Useful 59

To the Hands 60

The Fingerprints of Ghosts 61

Mary, Being Hailed, Replies 62

Aubade 63

New Snowfall 64

Given 66

Envoi: Counterpoint 69

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