Beholdings: Poems

Betty Adcock, Author Louisiana State University Press $15.95 (55p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1465-0
Precise, vivid images and a commanding tone empower these poems with urgency. In ``Clearing Out, 1974,'' the author sorts through her father's desk after his death in a hunting accident: ``Forget the checkbook that was awash with blood,/ and the wallet, its pictures crusted dark./ Everything in his pockets was afloat./ A man shot in the stomach drowns/ what's on him. Let the personal effects/ stay in their labeled plastic sack. Go on/ as if this were a forest with a path.'' In several poems, Adcock (Nettles, etc.) explores her eastern Texas roots. Both beholden to her past and a keen beholder of it, she tells stories like the ones she heard as a child, in which ordinary local people become legendary: ``Hosey Lucas was always there at Oscar's./ He looked like a man made out of parched cornhusks./People said that. People waited in the lull/ when no car was passing. They knew he'd tell/ again how he happened to have that sunk-in place/ right in the middle of his forehead/ kicked by a mule when he was twelve/ and the whole thing just healed over/ without a doctor.'' It is when Adcock is specific like this that her cerebral poetry is most accessible. In ``Remembering Brushing My Grandmother's Hair,'' the texture and clarity of the language renders the scene she's describing immediately visible: ``I see her in a ring of sewing, light/ fingers on needle and hoop, elaborate/ scissors shaped like a tiny stork,/ the glass egg in her lap./ Her temperate mourning wore black shoes./ Released, her hair released a scent . . . .'' (July)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-8071-1466-7
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