POETRY
Crosslight for Youngbird
Nightboat. Oct. 2018. 96p. ISBN 9781937658878. pap. $15.95. POETRY
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"A baby be damned without a mother. A mother be damned without her child. A man be damned without a country. A country be damned without a people." That's Omar speaking, ready to risk a Mediterranean crossing, for "the salted seas preserve a dream." Martin responds by warning him with a story about liberated Buchenwald inmates whose starved bodies sometimes couldn't withstand K-Rations: "So close to liberation and some empire licks back." A third-grade teacher in Brooklyn who also instructs new immigrants and refugees in English, Wadud readily references language mashups and lost lives (71 people asphyxiated in a truck, 3,771 drowned), all forming a veritable "palimpsest marking some memory." Yet she speaks not just of hard crossings and hard adaptation but the longing for community, recalling Omar's salt-preserved dream. "We three are a small nation," she cries as her sister teaches her to float, even if the water recalls darker murmurings. And the title's Youngbird says, "So pass through a ready sieve some what you need to make a little country by the supple, giving sea."
VERDICT An affecting debut collection.

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