Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Red Elegy: Beginnings Gasping Their Last

by Bacopa Literary Review Senior Editor Mary Bast
An elegy is a lament. It sets out the circumstances and character of a loss . . . in all societies, death constitutes a cultural event . . . as well as an individual loss. (pp. 167-168, The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000).
Of the two poems we nominated for a Pushcart Prize last year, an earlier post describes Raphel Kosek's "When the Saints Come Among Us." Bacopa 2019's other Pushcart-nominated poem is "Red Elegy," by Miranda Sun.

As do all elegies, Sun's connects us, invites us to mourn together, echoing shared memories, seeking consolation in our common grief.

Classic elegies ("Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," "Epitaph,"  "A Dirge," "Stop all the clocks") have no characteristic metrical structure. What most denotes this poetic form is its public utterance. And so all of us are called to Miranda Sun's "Red Elegy" from its beginning line, "Morning comes over the hills like war," to tulips with "blood rising in their throats," to salmon "gasping their last," to a fox "burned black to the bone," to holding a new born rabbit knowing "that is all you have:"
Morning comes over the hills like war.
Once we bore witness, you and I, with
our child eyes. To dawn with her
rosy fingers rubbed raw, knuckles blistered
with horizon.

That meadow we used to run through.
Tulips repeating themselves, red iteration,
blood rising in their throats.

Salmon returning to rivers, full of scarlet,
life spawning warm from their bodies. Beginnings
gasping their last against the gravel. I hope you know
that's not the only way to come home . . .
(Read the rest of Miranda Sun's "Red Elegy" (pp. 58-59) and other works
in Bacopa Literary Review 2019, Print Edition or Digital Format)

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Miranda Sun is twenty years old. An alumna of the NYS Summer Young Writers Institute and Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and published in Body Without Organs, Lammergeir, TRACK//FOUR, Red Queen, riverbabble, Sobotka, YARN, The Gravity of the Thing, and more. She loves bubble tea and aquariums, and currently reads for Ninth Letter Online.

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