The death of a youngest sibling as a child, an alcoholic and distant father, a grief-stricken family, a tentative faith: these are the building blocks of the narrative of Boy, a sequence of poems that explores how death and loss color memory and influence the ways family members relate to each other and to their shared history.
(Note: This title will be released on 2.7.2023. Orders will begin shipping in late January.)
|6 × 9 in
“I cried into a plaid shirt,” Tracy Youngblom writes about the funeral of her younger brother. “Even / birdsong tacked to air scratched / our ears.” Defiantly observant, fiercely intelligent, the speaker of this book-length sequence is the preteen middle sister watching her family crumble and, decades later, the mother of her own boys while grappling with the past’s “fragmented, mosaiced / wreckage.” Youngblom pulls no punches here. In her thoroughly engrossing narrative, we find not elegy, but the powerful and intimate chronicle of a woman seeking answers.
—Annie Kim, author of Into the Cyclorama and Eros, Unbroken
When Tracy Youngblom is a child herself, her younger brother dies, in a quick and utterly random accident. And then—the world goes on. This is the intimate and unvarnished truth of how that happens in a family, and the reality is so much more complex and varied than you could imagine: cold, desperate, cynical, cyclical, beautiful. Somehow Youngblom creates poems that are both unflinching and exquisite—just please read this book, you will never forget it.
—Kirsten Dierking, author of One Red Eye, Northern Oracle, and Tether
Such portent at your birth:
youngest boy in a family
of girls—wished for, loved—
too much? We sisters meant
business, bore down to help
you, love that wanted to keep you
always small. It would not be.
Or it would. That day,
you were just trying to visit
the dog, only other boy around. You were
sick—heartsick?—missed your grip
and spun, grasping at nothing—not railing,
but sudden air—tumbled down,
took in a patchy last view: open
doorway, sunlit kitchen. That’s the story
I invent: your final glance something
to carry with you. That’s not all
I imagine: those bumps—one step
at a time—the fatal one—and your
breaths at the last—not gasps—
a steady slowing, the body as it wades
in water, the water like hands stroking
the skin—so death would have been
gentle. Dear God, here’s futility:
thinking like this: pretending
I am talking to you and not
expecting an answer.
Silence of aftermath:
with no boy, undented
pillow on the made bed,
that bear I found
in the closet, sealed
in a plastic bag, its round
dark puddle eyes, red
felt mouth curdled
by words—as we all—
when we tried to speak
of it—what was.
September came with its flagrant
announcement of destruction,
flamboyant death-clothes. We returned
to school. Cool air bit our bare
knees, tossed our hair into frenzies.
Fourth grade was here, where math
turned suddenly incomprehensible.
I knew that everyone knew
I was minus one. Banked on
their embarrassment: who would ever
ask, How are you now that your only
brother is dead? To ward off even silent
pity, my chin would rise to ridiculous
heights: I’m fine. Distant, smiling.
They could look at me and never see
anything resembling the truth.
Pub date – February 2023
Trade paper – 6 x 9″
Emerging Voices – Poetry