In The House of Marriage, Erin Hanusa searches ruthlessly and compassionately for deep and strange truth in a world we only believe we know. Whether set in a field in Tennessee, the lunar beauty of Egypt's White Desert, or a rain-soaked Plymouth on a midwestern highway, Hanusa's passionate, candid verse reconciles longing with understanding. The opening poems deal with objects close and familiar: animals, landscapes, and the body. Later poems trace an arc of familial betrayal and forgiveness, while others spiral through lyric, erotic mystery. Yet each of these transcendent poems is ultimately concerned with "knowing the finite ways we possess / to love, / in learning them all." With this remarkable debut, Hanusa affirms her place among America's most promising young poets.
From "Lord's Prayer"
My father taught it the old-fashioned way,
alien and ornate as a wafer on the tongue.
Thine for your, art for are -
new words for words I knew
at three years old.
I don't remember
what I meant when I asked God
to deliver me, to forgive things
I didn't know I'd someday do.
Trespass, Dad explained, was sin:
going where you didn't belong,
off the narrow path of goodness
into the glittery forest.
He made no mention
of the sin not
mortal or venial
but liminal, embedded
in you the way life is,
a simple thing decanted
deep inside the bone.
Erin Hanusa's poems have appeared in the Southern Review, Quarterly West, and other publications. She currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with her family.
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