It’s been quite an inaugural year for Acre. We’ve put into the world six terrific books—two poetry volumes, two story collections, and two novels—three of them debut titles from brilliant new voices.
For your holiday reading pleasure, we’ve asked our 2018 authors to choose a favorite poem or passage from their Acre offerings and write a bit about what that selection means to them.
First up, Hannah Dow, whose lyrics, according to Danielle Deulen “pulse with the particular . . . showing how place shapes us, how the mind cannot escape the body.” We proudly released her debut collection, Rosarium, last month.
Hannah Dow on “Laws of Living”: In the past decade, I have moved from where I grew up in New Hampshire, to Pennsylvania, then to California, Mississippi, and back to California. For me, this poem is about the way my life, or the “laws of living,” have taken me far away from family and familiarity. There are many things I’ve loved about each of the places I’ve lived, but I carry the small pang of homesickness every day. I wrote this poem as a small reminder that I can still love from afar, can still search for a way home.
LAWS OF LIVING
After Spencer Reece
I seal my windows to keep
pests away. Nearby, houses seem
to birth cats, and churches try breathing
assurance into the neighborhood’s
decay. High above the emigrant
palm trees, birds navigate a city
of their own. I look at them and feel
the occasional delight I did as a child
while flying in airplanes, my mother
beside me, each of us reading
while the laws of inertia allowed
us to travel at great speeds
without moving our bodies,
without pages turning themselves.
The laws of living bring us to places
we do not plan to go. Places where
flowers bloom all times of year,
where everything closes on Sunday or else
for good. Here, we are promised
Jesus and tomatoes coming soon, promised
a change in season with every vibration
of wings. So when the fig tree disappears from
my yard, the cicadas go with it, but the birds
go on baptizing themselves in their baths.
My father baptized me. My father taught me
to ride a bike. Our first time out on the road
he asked what I should listen for.
Birds, I said, and while he corrected me
gently—such is his way—I have never since
forgotten every given thing I can’t control.
Mother, Father, I am trying to make my way
to you, but I have found no laws proving
the logic of a body that journeys without wings.