Moving House: Poems

A subtitle for this collection of expertly crafted verse might be “A Memoir in Poetry.” Angela Alaimo O’Donnell has arranged the poems so that they loosely follow the chronology of her life. First come the dark memories of a grimly loveless childhood in the coal-mining region of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Her father was a miner, and in “Late Elegy” she says to him, “No poems for you, my father. / I was always too afraid. Your quick anger, your dark days.” After her father’s death, her mother brought home a series of overnight lovers, ignoring the children’s craving for “peanuts, chips, mints, / small signs she’d remembered us” (in “Other Mothers”). The poem “Grand mother’s Living Room” gives a powerful sense of O’Donnell’s childhood, lived literally and figuratively atop open mine shafts that might at any moment collapse.

 

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