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Human Nature

ALICE ANDERSON
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 104
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfs15
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  • Book Info
    Human Nature
    Book Description:

    Human Nature explores, both seductively and horrificly, the redemptive possibilities found in an American girlhood gone wrong. Every one of Anderson's poems tells a story - dangerous, sensuous, sometimes crazy, sometimes sacred tales that take us into the heartbreaking reality and strangeness of a little girl who grew up the woman of the house; at once drink-maker, showpiece, secret-keeper, and object of lust. The terrain of incest and violence sets itself out on the page so subtely and plainly that the poems become mere containers for these extremes, a kind of prayer. Where formal grace might seem impossible, Anderson sings. And this is why the book - with all its darkness and danger - is, in the end, an affirmative one. The poems rise out of childhood's sorrows into a womanhood filled with the past, hell-bent on the future, and ready for a fight. In haunting, elegant verse, Anderson enters into the truth of experience. Through it all, the poems come to embrace those universal illuminations that arise out of--or even because of--suffering.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-0549-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  3. I.

    • THE SPLIT
      (pp. 3-5)
    • THE GOOD CHRISTIAN
      (pp. 6-7)
    • LICKING WOUNDS
      (pp. 8-10)
    • THE MARK
      (pp. 11-14)
    • WHAT THE NIGHT IS LIKE
      (pp. 15-18)

      You lie in bed and listen to the neighbor lady do her dishes. Her oldest, whose voice is high and thin, sits at the table and talks while her mother does the batch as always, plates and bowls first, then pans, then pots. She runs through the events of the day like a liturgy, one regret at a time. You hear the wooden chair screech, then the rusty faucet turn, then nothing. You wait. Your mother comes to tuck you in. She comes and sits on the side of your bed in her silent cotton nightgown, turns on your radio....

  4. II.

  5. III.

    • SIBLING RIVALRY
      (pp. 35-39)
    • LITTLE GIRL CADAVER
      (pp. 40-44)
    • PLAYING DEAD
      (pp. 45-46)

      This is what I can piece together. That it was the third grade, the year we lived in Mississippi, that year I won BEST LIKED at the all-school beauty pageant. Lili-Anne Nealy won MOST BEAUTIFUL. That we couldn’t afford new dresses, so mine were short. That our house was filled with cockroaches no matter how many times the bug man came out. They were black or red, ran up your arm sometimes when you reached for the door. That one day my mother ran up and down the hallway in her white T-shirt, braless, and that we laughed at how...

    • DEFENSE
      (pp. 47-48)
    • BLUE-BLACKOUT
      (pp. 49-50)
  6. IV.

    • NEW JAPAN
      (pp. 53-56)

      There is an elementary school across the street from my apartment here, in Daikokocho Prefecture. Each morning I ride my violet bike past the concrete play yard and the children line up along the high, chain-link fence, smiling at me with crooked, baby-toothed grins. Their spring uniforms have short navy shorts, white shirts, pink suspenders and cotton caps for girls and boys alike. One rough-and-tumble kind of kid never fails to yell out the first English sentence they learn in pre-kindergarten.Dis is a pen!and I call back over my shoulder,Kore was penu desu!to great gales of...

    • COMMUNION
      (pp. 57-57)
    • GRIEF
      (pp. 58-59)

      I burn the pictures in a pile heaped high atop her wedding gown, the one that’s hung in my dark closet for years. I burn my baby blanket, and diapers too. I burn every report card.

      I walk away before the dress goes up.

      I think about it all the time. I wish. That he’ll die. I will it to be an easy death—stroke in his sleep, a cancer he never knew he had. I wonder what, in light of this calm, persistent longing, I will do when it happens. I imagine my mother calling me—of course I...

    • TO THE WOLVES
      (pp. 60-62)
    • ESCAPE
      (pp. 63-66)
  7. V.

  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 89-89)