Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Slow Bottle of Wine

Today I read the poetry chapbook A Slow Bottle of Wine, by Katharyn Howd Machan, winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Award 2019. A fine book with a gorgeous cover that involves a self-portrait by the author's daughter, CoraRose Howd Machan, also an important figure in the poems. This is a book of 40 poems about a sad love affair that produced a beautiful daughter--see her here!--troubled by heroin addiction. Her mother is tortured by this, too, as you can imagine. The poem "How To Lose Your Perfect Child" is devastating. It's a set of instructions for how to live in denial while neglecting your child on a beach. It contains the guilt and the grief of a loving mother who knows and doesn't know what she did wrong, and almost accepts that there's nothing she can do it about it. Day Four of the Sealey Challenge breaks my heart on another beautiful day in paradise.

Random coincidii:

1) Today I drank a slow (half) bottle of wine, temporarily masked, and appropriately socially distanced, on my patio with my friend, Kim. This was a bottle of Firefly red wine, not the Pomelo announced/updated yesterday/this morning.

2) I was struck by these lines in A Slow Bottle of Wine in the poem "Tonight":

     I was sixteen when a man first trod
     that impossible place of sky and stars...

so soon after reading, in Bruise Songs, by Steve Davenport, in the poem "Dear Happy Ending":

     When I was fifteen,
     astronauts stepped
     down onto the moon,
     dividing it forever
     with a flag
     and some God.

I was a little younger when this happened but remember the moment, going outside, away from the TV, to stare up at the moon while a man was standing on it.

3) Halloween poems. Who gnu that two days in a row I'd read poetry chapbooks with Halloween poems in them? American Zero yesterday, and A Slow Bottle of Wine today. With a moment of inescapable Covid reading when I encountered the line "we search for weeks for just the right mask." Sigh...

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