The Map of What Happened

, Susan Elbe.“The Map of What Happened.” 2013: n. pag. Print.

Winner of The Backwaters Press Book Prize 2012, and the 2014 Julie Suk Prize from Jacar Press for the best book published by an independent publisher in 2013.

Rain from “a bruised-pear summer sky,” a river’s “cold silver zipper,” and the “green, sexy smell of water” fill Susan Elbe’s sensuous poems in The Map of What Happened.  Perhaps, because these poems are silky attempts to defy “rain, which erases everything” and to recover images of the past in order to recast them.  Even a woman hemming dresses for money, maybe an aunt or mother or neighbor, glints with the watery image of a “fan of silver pins glittering between her lips/ as she knelt on the cold linoleum.”  “I’m the one,” Elbe says, “whose laugh falls from the bridge,/ the last to run for cover/ when a hard rain pushes us toward home.”  Whether the water is memory or tears or erotic danger, it fills these poems, vividly presenting moments of intimate, often exquisite, recovery.
–Diane Wakoski

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