Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Anna God Remembers" by Eileen Moeller


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

One of the very great pleasures in being part of a community like The Tuesday Poem blog arises when one of our fellow poets brings out a new book of poetry – which presents not only the opportunity to celebrate with them, but also to enjoy a new body of work.

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]

or how:

"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

Eileen Moeller was born in 1950 and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, where she had poems published in her high school and college literary magazines. After starting a family, she earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she taught in the undergraduate writing program for many years. She also did storytelling and ran creative writing workshops throughout Central New York. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the United States and England, in online journals, in self-help and spiritual books/blogs, and on her own blog, And So I Sing: Poems And Iconography. Three poems were set to music in 2011, by contemporary composer, Dale Trumbore for a CD titled Snow White Turns Sixty. She has also been the recipient of The Dorothy Damon and The Allen Ginsberg Awards. She currently lives in southern New Jersey with her husband, Charles.

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. 


Helen McKinlay said...

It's wonderful to see you on the hub page Eileen. It never occurred to me that it was a fictional poem until I read the notes but even so it is a tender description of the way a tiny child can become unnoticed in an adult world and the consequences.Thank you for posting this Helen and for introducing an Eileen we haven't met before.

Kathleen Jones said...

I love this poem with its narrative and beautiful phrasing. Will definitely be reading more of Eileen's work.

Mary McCallum said...

Beautiful! Both poem and post. I love the warm/cold, lost/found feeling here, and the way the memory turns from something that happens to remembering a father. Wonderful to meet you properly, Eileen, at last - and your book. Thank you, and and to Helen.