The Necessity of Wildfire

Blair. Apr. 2022. 92p. ISBN 9781949467789. pap. $16.95. POETRY
If there is one word to describe Scarano’s second volume of poems (after Do Not Bring Him Water), it is fierce. These intense poems examine familial violence, with something always simmering beneath the surface. As they suggest, just as wildfires are necessary to rebuild and reclaim forests and start anew, so “there are people who start fires…to see how things burn…to realize some places need fire simply to survive.” And just as wildfires can result in tragedy, with lives and homes impacted, the many personal fires in the book lead to devastation. At one point, the narrator says, “Because my blood/ burns, I decide to not have children,” and when she tried to break his cat’s legs, her grandfather says, “I give you this// lifetime of fear—a throat full of bees.” Sometimes, it is difficult to keep up with Scarano’s narrative shifts, and readers might find it unclear of whom the poet speaks—mother, daughter, sisters, father grandfather, lover—but the effort is worth it.
VERDICT In stunning language, with line breaks that lead readers to yet one more harrowing moment, Scarano shows us that it’s important to understand the nature of violence and its passage through a family. Violence always begets violence.
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