Frozen Latitudes. Therese Halscheid. Press 53, 2014.
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Frozen Latitudes melds two journeys where lives are at the very edge of survival. One is the literal location of Alaska, where the writer lived among clans of the Inupiaq tribe. The second location is the time and place where her father’s life was frozen during heart surgery, when he suffered brain damage. In this new body of work, landscapes are linked to the rugged terrain of home, while the poet cares for a father with dementia.
In Frozen Latitudes, Therése Halscheid welcomes the lucky reader into a world of deep love, familial illness, and the dual human urges to speak and be heard. The narrator takes a look at “how it really looked long ago” and how “lips, bright as scars, are parting open with words so the great air can take them.” The settings of these exquisite poems range from a childhood home colored by a father’s dementia to the northern interior of Alaska with its stories from The Real People in which each word is "a language of light." These are moving, masterful poems in a brilliantly cohesive collection. (Donna Baier Stein)
She lives in me now, in the north of my chest, where it is all dark, all winter—
to my ears will come her voice, then to my eyes, this white woman,
then pathways to the tribe she roamed with, to places inside me
where they are hunting and she is gathering and there, a certain arrow,
and there, a stab of certain pain
then to moments other than these, to nights when my heart is a drum
for her dancing and her movements tell stories, and I feel in her feet
all that was told to me, all that was shared.
When I breathe and the wind blows in a mighty power, my mouth forms
a small opening and she scales the dark throat to leap where
my lip catches the light, that she might sit
and be warmed for awhile—
I felt her once, during an inner storm, as a certain chill ran through,
after my muscles tightened into big cold mountains
that she was arranging my ribs, arching them, same as the shelters
she spoke of, in the icy north of Alaska, where they shape
whalebone over driftwood and pack it with sod.
There is a veined landscape she traverses in the spring
where my blood runs as thawed rivers
and she waits on the sands of myself for the return of the whale,
propped against a white embankment of bones, knees drawn to her chest
as in the way of the Eskimo, at times looking up, reading
the starry pores, the sky of my cloudless skin.
More Poems by Therese Halscheid:
We Wanted To Be Writers
Sliver of Stone Magazine
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