Anna God Remembers
the time she followed in
her father’s footsteps,
tiptoeing through the night
behind him as he left for the barn.
She was only two years old but she remembers
how the front door locked behind her
and he went off to do the milking,
not even seeing her standing there
in her little coat and rubber boots.
She remembers singing to herself
as she curled up on the front porch
to get out of the wind.
But her mother never heard her over the wailing.
The rest she only knows from stories:
how she froze like a porcelain doll there,
on a night that dipped to eight below.
(Her mother always cried at the part
where she found Anna blue as skim milk,
and drove her to the hospital,
dead and stiff on the back seat.
Anna would cry too, over how
the Doctors swore and wept and pleaded,
thawing her out, coaxing her heart into beating again).
It’s fuzzy, but Anna remembers
being startled awake by warm hands
kneading her arms and legs,
and the voices saying: Come on, open your eyes.
Once in awhile she dreams she is her father again:
dozing in the straw against the kindly beasts,
warm as a newborn calf.
© Eileen Moeller
First published in Firefly, Brightly Burning, Grayson Books, USA, 2015
Featured on the Tuesday Poem blog with permission
Editor: Helen Lowe
Today, I am delighted to feature Anna God Remembers from our own Eileen Moeller's recently released book of poetry, Firefly, Brightly Burning, published by Grayson Books.
Firefly, Brightly Burning comprises a number of poetic sequences, one of which features the fictional Anna God. It's too easy, in an age of often intensely personal poetry, to overlook that it is also a form of fiction, and that the point of view character central to a poem is frequently not the poet. The creation of poetic characters such as Anna God helps sustain this vital aspect of the poetic tradition.
Last week, I featured an outstanding example of a narrative poem, Robert Browning's My Last Duchess. In this case, both the 'story' and the character development were encompassed in one poem. Sometimes, however, the narrative arc and understanding of character are explored and developed through a sequence of poems, as is the case with Eileen Moeller's Anna God.
I was particularly taken with the poem I have chosen to feature, Anna God Remembers, because of the power of the subject matter and the vivid picture the poem paints. As readers, we are part of the moment: the all-too-believable scenario of a two-year-old being locked out of the house, having followed her father out into the winter weather, and he, meanwhile:
"...not even seeing her standing there
in her little coat and rubber boots."
while later :
"...her mother never heard her over the wailing" [of the wind]
"the Doctors swore and wept and pleaded,
thawing her out, coaxing her heart into beating again..."
Like most good poems, it will only speak to the reader if the whole holds together – which Anna God Remembers undoubtedly does. Nonetheless, there are also some fine poetic moments within the poem, including the clever use of repetition around 'remembers' and with images such as:
"Her mother always cried at the part
where she found Anna blue as skim milk"
building on the earlier fact that her father "went off to do the milking."
I hope that you will enjoy the whole that is Anna God Remembers as much as I did on first and also subsequent readings. I also hope you will check out Firefly, Brightly Burning further – starting with another of Eileen's poems, Wind, which I have featured on my own blog today. Wind is a companion to Anna God Remembers, but also highlights the range of Eileen Moeller's poetry.
You may also find out more by going to the Grayson Books site; just click on the book title: Firefly, Brightly Burning
Today's editor, Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet and interviewer whose work has been published, broadcast and anthologized in New Zealand and internationally. Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise in 2008, and her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen's fourth novel, Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is forthcoming in January 2016. She posts regularly on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog and is also active on Twitter: @helenl0we
In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by the other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.