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Parker, Donald
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MFA Thesis, Sewanee School of Letters , School of Letters, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee , School of Letters Thesis 2012 , University of the South , Thresholds , Decisions , Southern childhood , Tragedy of war , Life journey
This collection of poems is about thresholds, some crossed naturally in the process of birth in a particular time, family, place, and with certain accompanying circumstances. Other thresholds are approached knowingly, with a conscious decision made to cross or not. Some thresholds open doors, bring joy, life; others close doors, bring pain, death. In every case, we are shaped by the thresholds we cross or turn away from, and by our memories of them: beginnings, pauses, stops on the journey between first and last breaths. The arc of the collection moves within the two main dimensions of time and place. It moves from longing for the past in That Road, That Roadside to accepting the past in the final companion poem, Beyond Blackberry. In each section, explicit and implicit thresholds are being crossed that represent physical and emotional life snapshots. The movement builds from the first section’s mostly nostalgic mood with memories of a Southern childhood, family warmth and tragedy with hints of a darker side in Saturday Outings, to the world beyond family in A Day in the Life of A. Stone. The second section places increasing emphasis on the rhythm of life, including its fragility and mortality, its uncertainty, its moments of pleasure, and the senselessness of life lost in war, as seen in Marcellin and Blood Chit. And yet hope triumphs in the concluding poem, Snow on a Robin’s Wing. Section three continues the focus of section two in a general sense, and also presents some very personal thresholds crossed in Alabama Summer 1944 and in the culminating poem, Easter Sunday. The final section reprises earlier themes: the transitory nature of life, the need for choices, war, and, in the collection’s closing poem, Beyond Blackberry, the present pushing out the past, with memory functioning as a positive catalyst for living in the present.