The Gold Thread, by Sarah Kennedy
I'm surprised not only by Sarah Kennedy's astonishing technical skills--I've read all her books with delight--but by the array of voices and personalities she brings to The Gold Thread, all in the service of providing a lyrical survey of violence, mysticism, insanity, empire, and powerful communion with God. Populated by an array of historical martyrs, wild-eyed seers, and female mystics--by the questionably sane and those who see all to clearly where we're headed--these poems make my head spin, always describing not merely our shared past, but our harrowing present of violence,evangelism, and unstable empire. I already know this will be one of the best books I'll read this year. --Kevin Prufer
With a range that extends from Pompeii's destruction to modern-day America's extremes of faith and folly, Sarah Kennedy regards human experience, especially women's lives, with a gaze alert to injustice and a voice that's unmistakable. History-haunted, justly angry, or ecstatic, Kennedy's poems express with equal force a martyr's searing judgment, a shunned pilgrim's religious fervor, or a woman's forebodings over news reports of war. In tracing how intense belief may enrich or distort what we behold, The Gold Thread offers outcast saints, women accused of witchcraft, and other visionaries, troubled yet far-seeing, in poems that are urgent, eloquent, and unforgettable. --Ned Balno
Sarah Kennedy's The Gold Thread is an extended meditation on the quest for meaning--spiritual or otherwise--in a troubled world. Moving seamlessly from considerations of our spiritual foremothers, women who sought liberation and selfhood through the communion with God, to lamentations for the current state of things, these fierce, elegant poems serve as a kind of cautionary tale. They remind us of the possibility of another fall brought on by the myopia of empire, by war and the sins of injustice. Soberly and powerfully, Kennedy shows us that the golden thread is also what ties us to our past and, inevitably, to our future. --Natasha Trethewey
From The Gold Thread by Sarah Kennedy
A Murder of Crows
Perhaps they are ravens.
Then I could write—
like the ones at the Tower of London
with one clipped wing each, flapping and scrabbling
for footing as they flop back to the ground:
emblems of the monarchy. Connoisseurs
of carrion, meat eaters, A Mirror
for Magistrates—“see how dark and feeble
are your designs on eternity.” I
could invoke Poe’s icon of self-pity
and American woe, but what good would
that do now? That president’s not even
present anymore, he’s retired somewhere
in the South. Maybe they’re crows anyway.
I could toss a scoop of sunflower seed
and see if they go for it. Look at their
implacable three-toed boots, how they ravage
the grass. I wanted to write about flight,
a local apotheosis called up
by any murmur inside their domain.
Unkindness of ravens. Murder of crows.
When they mean to kill an enemy or
occupy a space, they “mob,” which looks just
like chaos, though they’re all in formation.