“Nineteen Fifty Nine” by Adam Carson Hales

Two stanzas of nine lines separated by a stanza of one line with a spoken directive: “keep your head down.” This structure characterizes“Nineteen Fifty Nine” by Adam Carson Hales. The first stanza spins forward as a mirage: a description of a road, “border of the one way/road leading from/your house.” It is rendered in such a way as to depict movement, “how the sun would/yearn, bounce and glimmer across/silver waves of dune,” so that the reader follows the short lines as one would the movement of the stippled trout in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty.”

But if the first stanza is about vision, the second stanza is about sound and action – “you always listened to/your father back then” – the frenzied act of being “piled into the back of the/station wagon….while people threw bricks/through the windows of/ your childhood home.” The second stanza’s road is “jagged;” the first stanza’s road is “one way” – and the whole vignette is delivered by the narrator in the second person, as if to somehow fill in detail that may have been forgotten.

And why not forget such detail? It is, after all, only an escape down a road, for reasons unknown, although the date may lend historical significance. The poem arguably serves as the kind of episodic rush that characterizes trauma: the way it is stored deep in the muscles, the way it is retold and made indelible.

I responded to this piece because the illustrative quality of the poem’s structure, its precision, stands in counterpoint to the way that such things often go: the confusion, the inability to recount them without assistance, the tenuous handprint of only a few details. This poem speaks to dividing lines, when life is never the same from one day, one hour, one incident; it also speaks to history, that is, the need to form an account of experience in such a way as to process it, to transform it, to make the painful and the intimate expand into the remembered and the universal.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://minotaursspotlight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/rose_koch_133.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Rosemarie Koch earned her MFA in Poetry from Arcadia University in 2013 – the culmination of a lifelong dream. For her, poetry is an art form that crosses all forms, and is also a great source of joy – both reading it and writing it. She has recited Hopkins’ “Windhover” at many poetic and non-poetic gatherings, regards William Blake and Emily Dickinson as close personal friends, and finds poetry in everything she hears and sees. Her work with Minotaur’s Spotlight is an extension of her love of verse.[/author_info] [/author]