Dear Weather Ghost
The poems in Dear Weather Ghost, Melissa Ginsburg’s debut collection, examine the idea of place from the viewpoint of exile, both actual—“in the green shadow of an old stand of forest”—and psychological—“a dune of the outside builds in me.” The poems’ speakers and their banishments are varied: a heron “great and blue and standing still,” a child who “used a spool for a racecar,” a mermaid yearning for “a rock on which to perch.” Unmoored, the speakers turn to objects as a means of connecting to place. One speaker observes villagers who “cut snowflakes out of paper / and taped them to the windows,” noting this “seemed like an attractive lifestyle.” Watching, remembering, wondering, these speakers want “danger in the form of deep feeling.” Built around a long epistolary sequence, “The Weather Ghost Letters,” this collection showcases Ginsburg’s exploratory poetic style. The language is straightforward yet unusual: “leaves pardon themselves” and “Tides flatten minnows.” The images are startling, sometimes unsettling: “A lightning throws the oak in flames, warms its chipmunks living inside.” The syntax runs the gamut from fragmented to inverted to traditional. The end result is a powerful, fresh collection, one that proclaims, “The world was full of this.”
“Mermaid,” from Dear Weather Ghost:
Flood deeps the shallows. The rivers get covered. We difficult our dinners. In times of hunger, if onlya rock on which to perch. In sleep we choose a dream: lure a gull and water lock it, meet a boy and get feet.