Sows Ear Poetry Press, 2000
Out of print but available from the author here, $14 + $2 shipping (note: if you’d like the book autographed, please send me an email after you order):
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“This is brilliant not just poem by poem; it is also what the French call a well-made book, with an ineluctable progress toward redemption…Kendrick tackles the real issues. She ponders death and desire, striving and despair, yes; but my comfort lay in watching the progress toward the greatest of virtues: the progress, as the final poem puts it, to the ‘love we’re making.’ All of us.”—Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate
“Meditations on the soul’s journey, the poems of Heart Cake offer rich ,original, and sustaining vision.”—George Ella Lyon, author, poet and activist
“Leatha’s poems go where the pain in memory is. They illuminate the most intimate and elusive places in our lives. Giving a fresh voice to the poetry of motherhood and family, she takes us to new depths (and heights) of hard truth, kinship, wisdom.”—Robert Morgan,author of Gap Creek
“In her virtuoso debut volume Heart Cake, Leatha Kendrick mixes the ingredients of love and death and transforms them into the food of celebration. Crafted with fierce intelligence and luxurious rhythms, Kendrick’s poems brilliantly plumb the depths of her experiences, then modestly step back to offer her wisdom. Stormy, honest, and sensuous, these poems left me craving a second helping of their matter of fact courage and stunning heat.”—Molly Peacock, author of Second Blush and Cornucopia.
“Kendrick’s verse transcends technical quality with tensile strength. He work shouldn’t be considered only among the best in Kentucky, but as a contender for the best in the United States, too. Her precise diction proves that domestic subjects can be traced with a pen as sharp as a scalpel…The poet’s keen perceptions cause us to look closely, perhaps for the first time, at the layers of meaning suspended in every moment.”—L. Elisabeth Beattie, from her review in the Lexington Herald-Leader
Mornings, pulled earthward, I approach
these Buddhas, white and squat, female
openings accepting what is placed in them—
the weight of denim, heft of wet towels.
All passes through them, brought by water
and the heat toward an original state.
A friend of mine once claimed she survived
the dying of her child by doing laundry.
And though I’ve never had to face that kind
of death, there have been days of crying babies,
everlasting viruses, and loss
when life seemed somewhere else, and the wash
was all I could get done. Over and over
I wonder aloud, “What has this labor
added to the world?” Like purple dresses
or a dark blue shirt, the question fades.
Nighties rumpled full of sleep smells,
t-shirts stained and jeans survive,
demanding to be laundered yet again.
Love has put me here, I muse.
The fairy tale’s real end. A cinderella inside out,
I sing, “My love! My endless – laundry.”
Among the piles of clothes, I am
a blankness opening
to admit the insufficiency of thought.
The Way of Wisdom.
Go now and wash your socks.
— Leatha Kendrick
First published in Cincinnati Poetry Review, 1996.