Somerville, Mary Flannery
My thesis explores landscape and memory as thin places—the meeting places between opposites, particularly between humanity and divinity. My initial poem, “Memory Palace,” both praises the brain’s power and acknowledges its ability to fail, and many of my poems—set on spring-fed river in Florida where I spent much of my childhood—describe both the beauty and terror of the setting in order to portray the complexity of the divine. The speaker of my poems has inherited a devotion to preserving a seeming perfection which, held too tightly, becomes stagnant, even destructive. In “A Chat with Grandfather,” the family’s history starts with a dragon-slayer, but these grand beginnings have not been lived up to over the years, leaving the family in a past-obsessed, diminished state in which they have become the dangerous creatures which the family’s original members fought to destroy. In other poems, the speaker is immobilized by her sister’s depression and by her own loneliness. When these moments of immobility are broken, the speaker moves toward freedom. The suspense is often broken by a physical swallowing—of bringing what’s outside in. “Freediving into the Headspring” ends with such a spell-breaking command: “swallow your fill and breathe.” Many of my poems contain shatterings—a pain that, ultimately, helps the speaker better know herself, her family, and the divine.