Dear Linda Gregerson,
I’m Maya and I take a creative writing class at a community college in New Mexico while being homeschooled. I first read your poem “Prodigal” as one of the poems selected for the Dear Poet project with a note reading, “Because of the subject matter, this poem is more appropriate for high school students.” As a curious student, I am drawn to this type of warning, especially regarding poetry.
I noticed that the poem begins with similar and textile imagery that sets up the feel of the poem, which is such a nice way to start a poem. I found it interesting how the poem stretches from one image to another as if you are trying to both break and mend my heart. My favorite line is, “The lashes sticky with sunlight;” it confused my mind up to the point that it eventually conjured an obscure image of miniature suns stuck to each lash. I like how you don’t mention the girl until you’ve finished setting readers up for the strong nature of the poem. The line breaks and stanza breaks keep me at the edge of my seat waiting for an ending that I could never predict. How do you choose just the right words to throw the reader off a cliff? How do you show the reader what this girl is going through is such wretched detail, but as an outsider watching through a two-way mirror?
Every small sensory detail is like a piece of a puzzle of a torturous, yet disgustingly common story. I enjoy having difficult topics on my mind, because there is no healthy reason to suppress them.
The way you twist perceptions of seemingly happy and innocent things gives me a strange sense of hope. It makes the horrific things seem less horrific. I love how you describe the cutting process by letting the build-up of the poem do most of the work. It is still hard to read; I had to trudge slowly through that part and focus on one word at a time.
The end is where I got the most out of the poem because I had to stir on the quotes and questions to fully understand them. I first read it very fast to get it into my head, then I analyzed the words in each line as their own beings. I finally began to hear the person who was speaking and see them as one of those newscasters who is fine one minute and then suddenly become serious and (some might say) too real the next. This poem is not too real; it is as real as it needs to be. The world needs to come out from under warm covers and face reality. This poem draws readers in from the start with vividly interesting images and keeps them on a tight leash until the end. I enjoyed being tied to the poem and shown the full message at the end.
Thank you for creating such a powerful and heartbreaking piece.