'I listened to the sound of southern women's voices expressing disbelief'
There are so many delightful poems by Faith Shearin that it can be difficult to select just one to show you. This one is from her sixth book, Darwin's Daughter, published in 2017 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Faith Shearin lives in West Virginia.
by Faith Shearin
It was August 1977 when Elvis Presley fell
face down on his Graceland bathroom floor;
by the time paramedics arrived, he was
cold and blue. I knew this because I was with
my grandmother, Belle, who called her sister,
Geraldine, who came over at once so we
could watch the news. My grandmother knew
Elvis liked peanut butter on white bread
with American cheese, eaten in his jungle room
which had Tiki chairs, fur lampshades,
a waterfall. Other neighbors arrived:
women in short skirts, women who
brought with them more of the food Elvis
loved: coconut cakes, fried chicken, bacon.
Elvis was dead, and summer had been so
hot the things we touched burned our hands:
handles of garden hoses, car doors,
the metal swing set my grandfather
built for me on the back lawn. I listened
to the sound of southern women's voices
expressing disbelief; they said I swan
and I pictured something rippling
and solitary; they said Well, shut my mouth and
I saw blue Elvis, falling.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Faith Shearin, 'Blue Elvis,' from Darwin's Daughter, (Stephen F Austin State University Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Faith Shearin and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-06.