My mother said he has a nice physique

Henrietta Goodman

My mother said he has a nice physique
sometimes, about some man we didn’t know.
She meant, of course, his broad shoulders, narrow
hips, the opposite of us. That antique
Southern world—not sexual, her oblique
praise, not even female. We didn’t know
any men at all. I should feel sorrow
instead of blame, but even now I speak
as though she wronged me. In her white high-waist
bikini, she stood just knee-deep, the lake
a green lapping danger. She couldn’t swim.
It had nothing to do with being chaste
or loose, as that was called. But what mistake
made me, and what to name it, her or him?

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Henrietta  Goodman

Henrietta Goodman is the author of two previous books: Hungry Moon (Mountain West Poetry Series) and Take What You Want (Beatrice Hawley Award, Alice James Books). Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Field, New England Review, and other journals. She has attended the Marjorie Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency as well as residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. Originally from North Carolina, she lives in Missoula, Montana.

All That Held Us

Kansas City, Missouri

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry

In this collection of linked sonnets, a young woman wrestles with the expectations of her repressive upbringing and Southern culture. Raised by a jaded and critical mother and haunted by an absent father, she constructs the myths and truths of home, family, and marital love that confine and release her to navigate her own sexuality and capacity for intimacy.

“A collection that unfolds breathlessly, one untitled domino upsetting the next, and the next, while the reader stands entranced by the kinetic energy of the topple…. The Italian sonnets—fresh but true to form—provide the frame for poems that ‘spring the traps / to find out whether words would be enough.’”
—Karen Craigo

“… a biting exploration of family and coming of age. The dad is gone but not exactly. The mom and “crazy aunt” form a fascinating (and at times humorous) duo. The cast is small and tight. As Goodman circles round and round her subjects it all becomes more complicated. Each sonnet here finds the author leaning carefully in over the microscope, one eye closed, remembering and re-remembering (and probably re-re-remembering) and recording it all with brilliant Petrarchan snap. What starts out as sifting through ashes ends up a tale of Phoenix rising.”
—Michael Earl Craig

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