Whatever Dirt or Blemish Upon Her Name: Featured Poetry by Eugene Gloria

June 18, 2019 | 1 book mentioned

Our series of poetry excerpts continues with a poem by Eugene Gloria from his new book, Sightseer in This Killing City, a skilled and fevered examination of strife in the Philippines and the United States. Even Gloria’s domestic poems, like “The Maid,” carry the drama of a poet attuned to how national tension seeps through our walls and shakes our sleep. The poem is bereft of punctuation, save for the em dash near its conclusion, creating a compressed, intense feel. Even within his tense lines, Gloria manages the grace of individual images, like how the maid’s skirt is “a bloomful / Tent for tiny boys cooling with scent of sea air.” This is a poem about secrets and blemishes, told with details that make you want to close your eyes and savor the talented lines.

“The Maid”

Before she let her go not a speck of dirt
Sullied her bleached blouse except for the dark
Rope of hair she sometimes coiled into
A tidy bun with beaded sweat gracing the
Mandarin collar and a pressed hanky the sun
Lurking so the hanky became both veil and
Rag unlike her skirt a bloomful
Tent for tiny boys cooling with scent of sea air
Air rifling through the trees and
Bloomful sheets with camisoles on the line
And the flag flutter warning of forbidden zones
Sun scorching the grass into oaken fields
The yard where we hunted dragonflies well
Into dinnertime or thereabouts until
Dark I suppose or when rain fell—Whatever
Dirt or blemish upon her name only my mother knew

From Sightseer in This Killing City by Eugene Gloria, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Eugene Gloria.

is a staff writer for The Millions. He has written for Rolling Stone, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, and The Kenyon Review. His newest book is Ember Days, a collection of stories. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and twin daughters. Follow him @nickripatrazone and find more of his writing at www.nickripatrazone.com.

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