Rose McLarney has won acclaim for image-rich poems that explore her native southern Appalachia and those who love and live and lose on it. Her second collection broadens these investigations in poems that examine the shape-shifting quality of memory, as seen in folktales that have traveled across oceans and through centuries, and in how we form recollections of our own lives. An opening sequence presents contemporary ghost stories: men who gather at dawn in the gas station parking lots of small towns; the mountain lion that paces the edge of a receding tree line. A middle section draws connections between Appalachia and Latin America, places that share qualities of biological and cultural richnessplaces that are threatened by modernization. A final sequence retells the stories of earlier poems, posing questions about how we construct our landscapes and frame our views.
Is it neglect that knots
the fruit of old apple and pear trees,
studs sweetness with hard spots?
Or are the people who planted them,
stabbed them with grafts, still working
branches, warping them with windy hands,
so we’ll know how it is to age?
And is the barn suffering from disuse,
or was it a cane or shoe heels tapping
the rooftop, some couple lying
in their grave, their dream of dancing,
that poked through tin, so we’d have to
patch it? So I’d have to stand inside
staring at the spot of sun while my love
worked up there with a bucket of tar,
watching as the brilliant
was blacked out?