A Net to Hold the Wind / Memye Curtis Tucker


A Net to Hold the Wind

poems by

Memye Curtis Tucker

ISBN: 978-1-59948-761-8, 44 pages, $12 (+ shipping)

Release Date: October 29, 2019


Memye Curtis Tucker is a native Georgian, a theorist, playwright, and former senior editor of Atlanta Review. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, Colorado Review, Georgia Review, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, and Southern Review, among others, and set as art song and an artist book. Her books include The Watchers (Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, Ohio University Press) and the chapbooks Holding Patterns and prizewinning Admit One and Storm Line. Her honors include a lifetime achievement award and multiple fellowships from MacDowell, VCCA, and the Georgia Council for the Arts. A teacher of advanced poetry writing, she holds a PhD in English Literature.

“She knew / that beauty alone cannot heal a blinded world.” This line comes in the center of this (yes) beautiful sequence of poems, and radiates its complications out from it. For here are poems—strong, wild poems—about a past that is fading away, paintings that are full of shadows, objects that contain whole lifetimes, and yet, yes—somehow, still—a world that is worth all our attempts to honor it. ~Nick Flynn

From peacocks, paintings and persimmons, to wars, the warming sea and the weight of what is inherited, A Net to Hold the Wind grapples with both holding on to and letting go of the rich and sometimes painful histories we carry. Tucker’s intelligence and sharp eye, the precision and beauty of her language, and her masterful storytelling serve as her net to “gather in what used to be.” To read these poems is to see “behind everything a radiance.” ~Tara Bray


Grandmother’s grandmother’s peacocks in the yard,
a house held up by handmade bricks,
the only rug in Early County—
in old days, this was good fortune.
They didn’t know it was the olden days,
they thought it was Now.

And the Great War didn’t know it was WWI,
and Adam and Eve didn’t feel prelapsarian.
“I’d be married if I’d known the last man asking
would be the last,” said our chorus leader,
Miss Theopian, who made us dress
in white and begin every performance
with a hymn to quiet the audience.

At the flea market down the road, gleaners
are buying others’ memories. Peacocks
strut on vintage fruit crate labels, abandoned
ancestors glare from hand-carved frames,
battered red baking-powder tins still
hold white spoonfuls wanting to be angel cake,
released into now, into here, where the past begins.



By Ear

My almost-deaf grandfather listened hard,
but syllables blurred, were sometimes only

a click, a vowel, the hiss of an s.
All day he labored to translate garbled

sounds into something sane. Driving
me to piano lessons: Is the road clear?

Yes, Sir. You guess so?
We were travelers from two countries. Still,

what can we do but try to translate?
Even the trees and the wind whisper

an ur-tongue that we long to decipher.

When my son tried his newest piece,
the song waited inside the piano.

He touched one key and then another
trying to find it, to translate the lines

and dots on the paper, but I already
heard it clearly—the tune my grandfather

used to sing at the end of the day,
striding into the supper kitchen,

strumming a frying pan lid like a banjo,
ebullient in that shared music

even a child would know was love.



Nets to Hold the Wind

Some pianos lack this middle pedal,
the one that holds a note, a chord,
while the fingers dance.

With no sostenuto we silence the past,
forget the cities beneath the stones
of newer cities.

O taste and see!
We know this moment may be all.
Yet aren’t music, plays, paintings,

words, nets to hold the wind—
gusting time, the ecstatic breath,
the disappearing past, the under song?

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