The speaker in Laura K. McRae's debut poetry collection, Were There Gazelle, has travelled long and hard, wide open to the world. The poems explore how moments can become fixed points in our memory, and how the senses and the strangeness of travel can awaken us to links between past and present, place and time. "There is no shelter in folklore," McRae writes, "we taste what is to come/ in what once was. [M]oments scour our passage,/ clear it of debris--/human discourse and rot--a few shining pebbles/ left to bruise our feet. "
Laura K. McRae is a teacher in Toronto, Ontario where she lives and writes. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, and her chapbook Distributaries was published in 2016 by Frog Hollow Press.
Morning at the Summer Palace, BeijingThe fog rises off the lake to bury the sun. Its steel gleam rinses the willows that line the shore,dip feathered fingers in the eddying shallows. In the distance a man balances on his pontoon,pole and hook poised to loop fronds of weed from the water. The granite walkwayssteam in the heat, and as I turn down the pathto the fragrance tower, the marble boat, the old man with his long-handled spongepaints a new line with pure water. ThoughI do not read Chinese, I recognize the symbols of the Heart Sutra. The opening lines dry and fadeas he draws the final characters. I continue on the path,and he begins to write again.
"Distributaries can be seen as imitating memory itself in the way it highlights at once the immediacy and the transience of lived experience, and in the way that it suggests the parts of our memories that remain obscured, just slightly out of reach. " - Annick MacAskill, Puritan Magazine December 5, 2016