Monday, October 31, 2022



He takes me on vacations while he’s home, transporting our state of mind from deployment life to post-deployment lets-try-hard-for-normalcy life. ‘Let’s take a picture’ rolls off his tongue with every other breath. Each trip he hopes will produce pictures that will replace every frame/every profile image/every evidence of the life I’ve led without him here.

We can live and linger forever inside a frame.




“When was this photo taken?”


“Who were you with here?”

“I wonder what country I was in then.”

Seattle poet Nicole McCarthy’s full-length debut is A SUMMONING: MEMORY EXPERIMENTS (Manhattan KS: Heavy Feather Review, 2022), a layering of memory, trauma and erasure, working to salvage what should be salvaged and leaving all else behind. As she writes, early on: “Our memory palace is disintegrating before our eyes and by our hands. By selling, we are evicting memories, leaving them to fade and be overridden by others.” Through accumulating and even overlapping and obscured fragments of image, scraps and lyric prose, McCarthy explores how experience changes both the body and memory itself; living as a military spouse, she writes of deployments that shift geography and of long absences marked across a calendar path, while existing across the silence of an unfamiliar house. “Am I a memory romantic?” she writes, early on. She writes a layering, overlapping series of prose-blocks, layered to the point of illegibility, as one memory begins to obscure another, and simultaneously; memories enough that there is nothing left but an obscured text that folds into a textual mush. She writes an obscured text, an overlapping text, and sections crossed-out, offering both the archive and the erasure, attempting to both document and set herself correct, even as she repeatedly and routinely articulates an indeterminate foundation. If she can’t trust her own memory, how does anything else get built?

I’m a ghost unwilling to leave these shared spaces after everyone else has vacated. My husband left toward his new residence without a second glance back at the house we shared for six years. I sit in front of the fireplace, in our hollow home, crying over all that’s bound to be lost.

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