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Out of History's Junk Jar: Poems of a Mixed Inheritance

by Judith Chalmer

Eve, After They Had Gone

In my dream my sister
was a fish. Silver and lustrous
she rose in my hand, flesh
and bone of her torso arching,
her strong sides pulling upward
like a man's sinewy back.
So beautiful women will slip, I have
seen it, on and off their hooks.
In my dream my sister was
speaking. I don't remember
what she said. I remember
her blood, water-thin, down
the scaly sides of my dress.
But inside Mother's mouth,
I would swear, we were
perfect. We stood before
the glistening gate.
Our tongues were not cold.
They would never be
lifted or gored.



These are poems that reclaim, in the voice of a Jewish woman, stories almost lost in the personal and historical disruption of lives, immigration, the Holocaust, child abuse, and the rending and piecing together of love.



This is a sure and powerful first book, the somehow beautiful poems of which are the searchlight Chalmer carries into the dark of her life, its intersections of lost personal and political history. . . . Poetry is too rarely asked to do its full work of wedding profound individual insight with its largest social meaning. Chalmer expects it to, requires it to, and it does.
— Linda McCarriston, author of Eva-Mary, winner of TriQuarterly Books Terrence Des Pres Prize and finalist for the National Book Award in 1991