Image Credit: Lís Clíodhna via Unsplash
“Conjure every fire you have ever read about—/London’s gutting, Brisbane’s breadless
/factory, Boston’s burning,” the speaker says in Christina Thatcher’s collection of poems, How to Carry Fire. The collection has several threads that run through it–Thatcher’s family history, poverty, addiction, and how to move on, how to heal from past trauma.
In the titular poem, “How to Carry Fire,” the speaker says: “Remember/your aching home, the leftovers/of your childhood journals flaking/in the hot shell of your bedroom.” She talks about gathering up all of one’s memories, then adding them into the fire.
“Take what those flames/can give you,” the speaker says, in a particularly powerful moment.
“Stay wary now. You must never let the light/go out. Keep it lit until you learn to glow,” the speaker says. She’s talking about using the strength of will to keep oneself going.
There are a lot of strengths to this collection, which I enjoyed immensely. Thatcher’s work is written in a way that makes her pieces accessible to readers who might find poetry overwhelming. She writes in a way that is straightforward–it’s both honest, raw, and hopeful.
There are, ultimately, two choices. You can allow yourself to be destroyed by your past, or you can overcome it. How to Carry Fire is a testament to the will to live and prosper. I highly recommend this book, which is available now through Parthian Books.