Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Plume of Haunting Beauty

Plume: Poems (Pacific Northwest Poetry Series) – Kathleen Flenniken

80 pages
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

When I moved to Kennewick, Washington, a few years ago, across the Columbia River from Richland (and the Hanford Reservation), many of my friends faced visiting me with (mock, I hope) trepidation. Some still express amazement (feigned, I'm sure) that I don't glow in the dark.

Kathleen Flenniken's book glows. The writing glows with lyrical, hauntingly musical, crystal clear phrases that tell us what it was like, growing up in Richland where, as she says, all the fathers disappeared into Hanford to make the bomb. As an adult, she worked there herself for a few years, while her best friend Carolyn's father died of a cancer directly attributable to his work at the Hanford nuclear facility. His death wasn't the only one.

Flenniken talks about her childhood, the trust, the lies, and Carolyn's father.  Are we still hearing the same lies, do we still have the same trust? Does it ever snow in July?

Ambitious, sweeping, and easily accessible, Plume is worth the read. Several times. 

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