Books
Chelsea B. DesAutels

A Dangerous Place

Early in her powerful, affecting debut, Desautels writes: “I always mention gratitude because/people like that ending.”  Unflinching in its candor, this is the story of a woman with two swellings in her belly: a nascent baby, and a cancerous tumor. The poet could focus on the particulars of the medical case, using language from a traditional illness narrative. Instead she gives us the basics, then gathers up surprising and expansive material from various landscapes—the Black Hills, the prairies of Texas, the mountains, switchgrass, and, especially, the neighboring buffalo, to which she feels a profound connection. Desautels’ metaphors strike home, they are counterpoints, balm to the uncertainty and grief that make us uncomfortable. The book moves elegantly from its dark beginnings to a transcendent thankfulness.  With healing lyricism, she writes: “And I imagine the white sheets as heron wings./And the whirring machines are white eggs./And the worried voices are sunlight on water.”
34 printed pages
Original publication
2021

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