cover image Running Back to Ludie

Running Back to Ludie

Angela Johnson. Orchard Books (NY), $16.95 (49pp) ISBN 978-0-439-29316-7

With only the most tenuous memories of her mother, the young narrator of these evocative poems thrives with a loving father and her Aunt Lucille. But when her father says she can visit her mother, Ludie, the narrator's longing surfaces the longing of a daughter, who doesn't ""step/ on/ cracks./ Ever/ .../ More careful than the others/ with/ mothers/ that they take for granted."" Johnson (Toning the Sweep; The Other Side: Shorter Poems) effectively weaves together the fleeting images of a mother-daughter reunion with the everyday events of a teenage girl's life, such as getting in trouble with a friend at school, learning to drive on a beach and the pangs of a secret love (describing her crush on a friend's brother, she admits that she ""has loved him/ all her silent heart life""). The visit with her mother allows the heroine to see her resemblance to her mother (for instance, the way ""we swing our arms the same/ as we walk into the sunlight""). But the visit also brings the pain of seeing Ludie's photographs of people ""who are/ not/ me,"" and missing what could have been. Conveying a brief but complete narrative, these free verse poems express a young woman's yearning for the presence of a mother and the universal feelings of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)