Photo credit: Jeff Davis. This photo of Cathy was snapped at the studios of WPVM when she appeared earlier this year on WordPlay, the station's program by, about, etc., "writers, their craft and ideas."
ISBN-10: 1604542020ISBN-13: 9781604542028 Published: Iris Press, 05/01/2009 Pages: 96
Cathy will be reading at City Lights Bookstore, http://www.citylightsnc.com/, this Friday night (Oct. 16) at 7:00 p.m.
Cathy Smith Bowers is a native of South Carolina. She was a winner of the 1990 General Electric Award for Younger Writers and a South Carolina Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared widely in publications such as The Altantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, The Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, and many others.
Cathy’s first book, The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas, was published in 1992 as the first winner of the Texas Tech University Press First-book Competition in their Poetry Award Series, subsequently named for Walt McDonald. Iris Press republished The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas in 1997. Iris Press published Cathy’s second book, Traveling in Time of Danger, in 1999. Iris Press published Cathy’s third book, A Book of Minutes, in 2004. Cathy teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte.
To view a portfolio of Cathy's work over her past several books, please go to http://www.irisbooks.com/bowers/bowers_port.htm.
Here are two poems from her new collection.
When she calls and asks
f I will drive her to the mall,
our city’s newest labyrinth
of glittering stuff, I know my sister
has come back to me, back
from November’s shock of blood,
the exams, the x-rays, the surgeon’s
winnowing blade. She is one week
out of the hospital, chemo bag
draped casually across her shoulder,
spilling its slow promise
into her veins. Odd how stylish
in the mall’s fluorescent lights,
a Gucci or von Furstenburg,
its pale blue plastic shiny
as the toy shoes and purses
we used to play grownup in.
I loop my left arm through her
frail right, her tired gait lanky,
almost chic, steady her against
the teenage throng, tattooed
and pierced and spiked, past
racks of skirts and dresses, tier
upon tier of stiletto heels
like the ones our dead mother
in her younger years
suffered in so beautifully.
At the base of the escalator,
beyond The Limited and The Gap,
a girl too young for fashion’s
fleeting realm spies the apparatus
around my sister’s neck. “Cool
radio,” she whispers to no one
as we all step on together.
Each morning in my mailbox
or tucked into a quiet cove
of my front porch, another
burden of solace
reminding me again
my husband is dead.
Last week, an oval cardboard box
decoupaged in stars, inside, its nested
offering—a cache of still-warm eggs
gleaned from my neighbor’s henhouse.
Yesterday, a Peruvian prayer shawl,
the warp and weft of its holy weave
climbing, like girders of a bridge,
its sturdy warmth.
And today this handmade flute,
turned and hollowed and carved
by Laughing Crow, enigmatic
shaman of some distant plain.
See its little row of holes
lined up like perfect planets,
as if having not yet learned
the universe had collapsed.
See my lips pressed to the tiny
breathless gape of its own mouth.
As if my lungs could conjure anything.
As if it were the one needing to be saved.