“Mother is drinking to forget a man / who could fill the woods with invitations” is perhaps one of the best poem openers I’ve come across. Sure, it’s simple. But it is also grotesque. The phrase is already a poem before the poem even begins.
This line opens Lynn Emanuel’s poem “Frying Trout While Drunk.” Emanuel is a well-established poet, whose work won a Pushcart Prize, one of the most important prizes awarded in the literary world. Today, she teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Emmanuel spoke about her influences (Italo Calvino, Adrienne Rich) with “Blackbird Magazine” in an interview that can be heard here. But, the best way to get to know Emanuel is to read her poems.
Frying Trout While DrunkMother is drinking to forget a manwho could fill the woods with invitations:come with me he whispered and she wentin his Nash Rambler, its dashwhere her knees turned greenin the radium dials of the 50′s.When I drink it is always 1953,bacon wilting in the pan on Cook Streetand mother, wrist deep in red water,laying a trail from the sinkto a glass of gin and back.She is a beautiful, unlucky womanin love with a man of lechery so solidyou could build a table on itand when you did the blues would come to visit.I remember all of us awkwardly at dinner,the dark slung across the porch,and then mother’s dress falling to the floor,buttons ticking like seeds spit on a plate.When I drink I am too much like her—the knife in one hand and the troutwith a belly white as my wrist.I have loved you all my lifeshe told him and it was truein the same way that all her lifeshe drank, dedicated to the act itself,she stood at this stoveand with the care of the very drunkhanded him the plate.
This post was originally published in Zeteo Journal’s Zeteo is Reading section.