I love how attentive to the world these poems are, the way they illuminate the small wonders that surround us. Lisa Hammond is a gifted poet, and this collection should gain her many appreciative readers. —Ron Rash
Available from Square and Texas Review Press
The poems in Moving House are grounded in the sometimes haunted landscapes of South Carolina, a setting rich with the flavors of ripe peaches and tomatoes and fresh caught shrimp. The speaker of these poems turns her attention to the ordinary objects of her Southern home, seeing artistry in the scales of a fish, the pearly buttons of a linen shirt, a missed eclipse, a sprig of morning glory run wild. In the interaction between story, history, family, and memory, these poems find meaning rooted in the land, a source of both fear and wonder.
Off Highway 17, watch for the old man
with the red truck, the handwritten produce sign:
tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, shrimp.
Think who will eat them. Sharing shrimp
is a measure of your love: half pound apiece.
A pound for true devotion.
At home, wash each shrimp, the water just above
a trickle. Be careful: the sharp edge can catch
you, the soft place on your palm.
Season the boil with Old Bay. Fresh shrimp
still remember tidewaters, the taste of brine
an echo you must outweigh.
Pull off each shell, hear the crunch of sand
under your feet. Taste black mud, salt air,
each dark vein a history.
Moving the State Line
Around 1815, a stone monument was erected on the west bank of the confluence of the South Fork and Catawba rivers. It marked a critical corner in the much contested 401-mile state line that separates the two Carolinas. When the Catawba was dammed a final time in 1925 to create Lake Wylie, the three-foot-high stone obelisk disappeared beneath the swirling waters.The last surveyors marked a tree every mile, numbered
—Dan Huntley, The Charlotte Observer
each one: long leaf pine blazed to stand witness,
long fallen now, markers not even a memory—
and that before the waters rushed in, damming
the Catawba, rocky shoals buried, hunting lands,
and one small stone marker, monument carved
NC — SC. Latitude 35.00. Lake Wylie covers
a ghost state beneath, abandoned highway, stumps,
useless ferry, crumpled ruin of barn, farmhouse,
great convocation of bream the only observers
as divers draw boundaries like the long chalk line
on the children’s floor, faint marker of separation,
more dust. Consider the permanence of lines drawn
in water: no echolocation can trace old edges, so faint,
never real. Smooth soapstone surface buried in silt,
old hard core of earth still supporting the weight of line.
Once sharp words dim and soften each shift of current.
This water, not too deep for divers, but too deep for time,
hiding a line that existed unobserved, or never existed,
may yet be mapped by surveyors of our ancient world.
What story this stone tells, what marker lies mute,
what matters this line, past echo of divide.