Lighting the Shadow made LitHub’s “The Best Poetry Collections of 2015” list and was a finalist for both the 2016 Wheatley Book Award in Poetry and the 2015 Balcones Poetry Prize.
Lighting the Shadow
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Lighting the Shadow is about a woman’s evolving journey through desire, grief, trauma, and the peculiar historical American psyche of desire and violence. These poems explore the international and psychological wars women survive–wars inflicted through various mediums that employ art, race, and literature. Furthermore, the collection is about a woman’s transformation and acceptance of her complicated attempts to balance her spirit’s own spectrum. Pulling the poet away from death, these poems insist that she open her life to her own powers and the powers of the greater world–a world that is both bright and dark.
“The Woman and The Branch” from Lighting the Shadow:
I knew. I knew. My mother gave me
her bluebird of happiness. Carrying the glass
inside my skin to school, I was young.
Show us what you have, the world said.
I was polishing somebody’s rapture.
It wasn’t mine. Not my paradise
or my mother’s love, but oh god
how it shone. I could never tell
which bird was singing. I went home
like a canticle to its branch. I flew
through gray leaves away from
childhood. I gave my mother answers I knew,
didn’t ask whether there was another color—
was blue right after all? Was happiness
a song to be shattered? I couldn’t explain the frailty, how
the figurine had cracked
when I looked through its life.