Sometimes surprises come at just the right moment. I woke up yesterday morning to find a few emails congratulating me on my poem, "Malamute," which is now posted over at Verse Daily. As I have mentioned before, one of the really interesting things about Verse Daily is that the site doesn't warn who's up next. As a result, it always feels like a lovely present to find one's poem suddenly there.
"Malamute" comes from my manuscript-in-progress, The Arranged Marriage, and was recently published in Black Warrior Review. In fact, the publication is so recent that I haven't yet received my contributor's copy of the issue.
For a long time, "Malamute" was the opening poem in The Arranged Marriage. Even though I've now revised the collection's order significantly, choosing to intertwine the three narrative threads rather than leaving them distinct and separate as they were before, "Malamute" continues to do a lot of heavy lifting. It's a poem that contains all the essential DNA of the collection: the violence, the displacement, the vulnerability of the female figure, the animal-as-omen. It's a poem that took me a long time to get right on the atomic level, even though the general movement of the text happened in the first two hours of the draft. The opening assertion presented itself immediately, while the final sentence refused to arrive until I had almost given up on the poem ever fully becoming.
Like every poem in The Arranged Marriage, "Malamute" is based on a true story (as the movies say). I don't make that claim about most of my poems in my other books. But "Malamute" is a story I grew up hearing. My mother used to show me the tiny, white scars--thin as healed paper cuts--on her hands as proof. All the poems in The Arranged Marriage belong to my mother. She has lent me the stories for a little while, and I hope that I have taken good care of them.