Kathleen Driskell’s Next Door To The Dead (University Press of Kentucky)
Living next door to a grave yard, as Driskell does in a converted country church just outside Louisville, is not everyone’s cup of tea. Those who believe in ghosts, for instance, or have a morbid fear of the unknown might shy away. Not Driskell. No sir, she relishes the opportunity to mingle with those in the hereafter.
In the title poem, the poet’s persona thinks of “next door” as if it was a place to borrow sugar, an egg, or a green thread. When she tells her husband she’s going to walk next door, he understands that she’s gone to visit their “nearest neighbors” in the cemetery, like Mrs. Luck (1818-1898).
Less amusing are the living who visit the grave yard late one night to “hoot, howl, chest-bump, bellow, stagger, and weave through the stones.” And when one intruder topples Aleta Shallcross’s headstone while riding it like a surfboard, the poet’s husband confronts them. And in the “prickling moments” that follow, she waits to see if they will fly or fight.
More on Kathleen Driskell’s new poems next time.