COMMENTARIES ON MARGARET ELYSIA GARCIA ď‚¨
Sometimes one reads a poet's work and though the cultural differences are great, and the family stories wildly unique, there is an instant sense of kinship. It is a connection, I suspect, from one heart to another; we breathe in the same hopes and values, and we console one another about the same sorrows. In Variations on a Theme, Garcia meditates on the trials of family, the lies and silences passed down through generations, changing, adjusting, and aspiring, and always bracketed by the knowing biology of heritage: "Year after year hoping, that something will begin/That the visits will somehow/Authenticate our skin." How beautiful; longing and clear, the wish to be deeply safe and in love with who we are is for this reader an expression of a universal hope. And there is dark despair as well; suggestions of the barest family trees scrubbed clean of truth and whitewashed by the years of deception and purest solitude. In The Kitchen Sink, she writes "Alzheimer's, they say, could/be a product of our environment//of lead, of aluminum, of non stick perfection/I look around the sink for clues;/my grandmother thinks it's the meat,/I think it's in the powerlines;/My grandfather thinks nothing now." For him, perhaps, mercy comes in strange, unbidden ways; for us, a jolt of comprehension is tucked into a single simple line in the aloneness of this poem. Nonetheless, Garcia's poetic voice is beautiful. She allows love and angst, compassion and honesty to reside together in her work, making it complex and rich, if not always comfortable. I shall seek out more of this authentic, compelling poetry; in her house, all is there, and ultimately we recognize her people as our own.
- WREXIE BARDAGLIO