If Some God Shakes Your House
Jennifer Franklin reimagines an Antigone for our times in her third collection, If Some God Shakes Your House, where filial devotion and ossified roles of gendered labor become the engine of her defiance. Franklin’s Antigone is ferocious, feeling, and unafraid of the consequences of speaking the truth to power about the political atrocities she has witnessed and personal traumas she has withstood. With a sensitivity that equally elevates the quotidian and the classical, and an attention that moves from the ancient ruins of Pompeii to the right of bodily autonomy and agency stripped away by our own Supreme Court, Franklin reveals the high stakes of our moment where “the one who does the judging judges things all wrong.” Franklin’s Antigone has embraced the sacrifice of self for something greater—a dual devotion to her disabled daughter and to her art. “For twenty years, I have been disappearing,” she writes in the book’s final poem, yet she continues to sing.
“Memento Mori: Bird Head”
A suitable end to February—waking and drawing
the blinds to discover a bird’s head, stuck by its own blood
to the sill, outside the window. Thirty-three floors up, a hawk
devoured the body on the roof and discarded the eyeless head.
Its beak, long and curved, looks like the Venetian plague
doctor’s mask that hung on a red velvet ribbon in my first
apartment. The head sits, stubborn, a reminder of what
this winter has taken and what remains three weeks before spring.
As soon as I roll a newspaper and push the head off the ledge
to the stubby shrubs below, I regret it. The dried blood,
still smeared on the gray stone, resembles a daub of paint
a child tried to scrape from her thumb. On my first
organ donor form, I checked off each box except eyes,
as if there were some way to see, even after death.
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