This posthumous collection brings together the final poems of Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan. Featuring forewords from Jon Loomis and Adrienne Su.
“Difficult as it is to accept that these are Claire’s last words to her readers, they give to us, again, her unique voice and poetic vision. The thread of family binds these poems, as she writes about her daughter, ‘It’s then I see my father in her face, her TaTa—grandfather in her feet, just as I’d seen my mother in my niece.’ Through a range of cultures and traditions ancestors come back to assert themselves—taxonomies of color in a series written in the voice of Frida Kahlo, the trickster figure Vishnu hiding behind a Lotus leaf, and the lyrics of Gulzar, an Urdu poet.
There are heartbreaking poems of elegy written for the children in ‘After the Earthquake and Tsunami, 2011’ and loss is leavened by the idea of return. She soothes her daughter, Vidya, ‘miracle of my life’ as she explains her grandfather has ‘returned to Kerala where two river banks meet’ and offers the couplet ‘O my Daughter, you remind me our parents are still with us —’
As always, within Claire’s work, there is the presence of a cat, Happy Joe, peering out from a window ledge, and communion with the natural world. There is the Satsuma orange tree in Tucson her parents won’t see, yet a recognition that their souls or spirits might say, ‘We’re in Heaven — it’s this beautiful garden.’ ‘When we are gone, don’t cry,’ she tells her daughter, ‘Like Vishnu, we are always with you.’ These beautiful, intense poems return Claire to her readers, still grateful to hear her voice.” —Elline Lipkin
From the afterword written by Rita Dove:
“And her passion was poetry—she was determined to hone her craft, to stretch her voice, to learn how to contain multitudes using the sparest, simplest language possible. She was fearless, both in and out of the classroom, on and off the page—”