cover image Forgiveness Forgiveness

Forgiveness Forgiveness

Shane McCrae. Factory Hollow (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9835203-1-3

In his follow-up to 2013's Blood, McCrae presents a speaker concerned with the duality of memory who is exploring two concurrent memories: one is of a racist children's book, Little Brown Koko, and the projection outwards into the speaker's own racial identity; the second is one of sexual molestation at the hands of a grandfather. Both are rendered as sides of the same coin and the book's two halves repeat section titles in order to enact the play between them. McCrae's images are explained in one section but presented in the other, and as the book nears the truth of molestation at its core, his language breaks down. For instance, his poem "The Visible Boy" is initially about the book's illustrations and racism in America's history, but it is then flipped to become about a boy being erased by the hand of abuse. The language can be jarring, but it reflects the subject matter. Both Koko and the speaker eventually must face their torment. Koko gets to have coffee with his creators; the speaker watches his abuser die slowly, and then must attempt forgiveness. The form and function don't always cohere, but McCrae admirably explores the forgiveness necessary in racial reconciliation and the forgiveness that one needs to make peace with himself. (Sept.)