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Review :: “To the Quick” by Karen McPherson

Southern Humanities Review volume 55 numbers 3 and 4 cover image

Post by Denise Hill

“To the Quick” by Karen McPherson is a brief poem made up of three tercets. It’s a poem of wizened recognitions that can truly only come with age, which the narrator acknowledges in her skin, “Hardening. // Softening. Veined and rugose.” where she wears her weariness for “hoarding my personal past while coveting others’ futures – ” (How does McPherson know my mind so well?) The speaker goes on to forgive and make plans, trim a kitten’s claws and compare those clever little mechanisms to her own nails, exposed and absurd as a result of tearing “away soft crescents with my teeth.” “To the Quick” delivers readers as promised, to that pit inside that yearns for understanding and connection while at the same time being fully grounded in the concrete non-attachment to time, which moves steadily forward. We eventually figure some things out, “forgive the lapses,” and remain mystified all the same. McPherson succinctly finds that sweet spot in “To the Quick.”

“To the Quick” by Karen McPherson. Southern Humanities Review, v. 55 nos. 3&4.

Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is the Editor of NewPages.com, which welcomes reviews of books as well as individual poems, stories, and essays. If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.

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