This Week, I Read Lindsay Lusby’s Catechesis

Image Credit: Evie Schaffer via Unsplash

“A girl has two choices:/ to be a tree or/ to be the forest,” the speaker declares in Lindsay Lusby’s collection of – poems, Catechesis, a Postpastoral.

 The collection is a stunning pastiche, interwoven with references to Grimm’s Fairytales, Silence of the Lambs, anatomical drawings from Grey’s Anatomy, and botanical references, all done in gorgeous, precise verse. This book studies the overwhelming horror and beauty of the natural world as well as the overwhelming unease of being a woman.  

“Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling?” is part of a series of pieces, titles plucked from Hannibal Lecter’s cannibal lips.  

“Are you a bird/ in a woman-suit, Clarice?” the speaker (Lecter) asks in a moment which is positively spine-tingling.

“Peeled back,/ you are the same shade/ of robin-redbreast.//You are plucked up. // Ready for love/ to wear you like a girl-pelt//and preen,” the speaker says. Love becomes something which is threatening—conjuring an image of Buffalo Bill—the serial killer from the movie, who covets the feminine identity and physical body so much that he tries to make a woman skin suit of his own.

Love can be brutal and covetous—the metaphor is fresh and original.  

I find myself so deeply impressed by this book, that I’m a bit speechless. Lusby’s work is both gruesome and lovely. It’s like following a butterfly off of a cliff and then just staring up at the sky as you confront the grim reality that you’re falling to your death. The raw horror and beauty of the pieces of Catechesis are heartrending. This is one of the best poetry books that I’ve read, ever. I highly recommend it.


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