Room Swept Home
Room Swept Home serves as a gloriously rendered magnifying glass into all that is held in the line between the private and public, the investigative and generative, the self and those who came before us. In a strange twist of kismet, two of Bingham-Risher’s ancestors intersect in Petersburg, Virginia, forty years before she herself is born: her paternal great-great-great grandmother, Minnie Lee Fowlkes, is interviewed for the Works Progress Administration Slave Narratives in Petersburg in 1937, and her maternal grandmother, Mary Knight, is sent to Petersburg in 1941, diagnosed with “water on the brain”—postpartum depression being an ongoing mystery—nine days after birthing her first child. Marrying meticulous archival research with Womanist scholarship and her hallmark lyrical precision, Bingham-Risher’s latest collection treads the murky waters of race, lineage, faith, mental health, women’s rights, and the violent reckoning that inhabits the discrepancy between lived versus textbook history, asking: What do we inherit when trauma is at the core of our fractured living?[sample poem]
XI. the more ground covered, the more liberated you became
I am scared my mind will turn on me.
I am scared I will be naked in a burning
house. I am scared my children won’t outpace me.
I am scared my children (who aren’t made by me)
believe I am a sad imitation of the others.
I am scared I will gather in a room
where everyone will ask me to remember
and when I don’t lie they’ll say I’d hate to be you.
I’ve lived long enough to be scared my kidneys
will give out on me. I’ve lived long enough to know just
when they should. I have never shared my fears
with anyone; I am scared they will map the land
and take liberties. Will the women be ashamed?
I’m scared to ask. What will live again? What will die with me?
|10 × 7 in
February 6, 2024
Wesleyan University Press