Pinion: An Elegy (Southern Messenger Poets)
In this eloquent long poem, Claudia Emerson employs the voices of two family members on a small southern farm to examine the universal complexities of place, generation, memory, and identity. Alternating between the voices of Preacher and Sister, Pinion is narrated by the younger, surviving sister, Rose, in whose memory the now-gone family and farm vividly live on: "In the dream that recurs, like a bird returning, the place is still as it was--as though they went away, years ago, fully intending to be back by ﬁrst dark."
Sister tells of her observances in day-to-day life in the 1920s and her struggle to take care of her father, grown brothers, and Rose--"the change-of-life baby"--after the death of her mother: "The hens had hidden their heads beneath / their wings; they blinded themselves as I dusted / the kneading bowl with ﬂour sifted ﬁne as silk, and so / I disappeared as I sank my ﬁsts into it." Preacher feels keenly the burden of running the farm and fears being the last one to live on the place: "I was held fast there, pinioned, not / dying, growing numb and light, wait-crazed / and ﬁnally calm." Both wrestle with a desire for independence and the duty to home they are bound to by birth; neither marries or leaves.
Pinion is ultimately a wrenching elegy that Rose creates. She is the one who escaped, only to realize "I survive them all, but I ﬁnd I have become the house they keep."