Ever since I read The Round House (brief review here), I’ve been on the lookout for Louise Erdrich’s books. In Vermont a few weeks ago, at Brattleboro Books, I found a copy of Jacklight (1984), her first collection of poetry, which, though it’s now thirty years old, still feels fresh, full of sharp observations and unexpected turns of phrase. I’ve been reading it slowly, finishing up last week. The poems tell stories that reflect Ms. Erdrich’s Native American and German American background; several are accompanied by short, explanatory notes or epigraphs, which is a poetic practice I happen to love.
I recommend the whole collection, but this week I’ll point you toward “Turtle Mountain Reservation,” the last poem in the book. Dedicated to the poet’s grandfather, it’s a powerful meditation on heritage, aging, and change.