Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s Nettles
by Venus Khoury-Ghata
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In the last lines of Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s poem “The Cherry Tree’s Journey,” the mother asks, “Where will we tie up the cherry tree’s shadow / now that we have neither donkey nor cherry tree?” The question sets the tone for the poems that follow, for Nettles, the Lebanese poet’s latest collection, is engaged in convoluted negotiations between lost things tethered rather tenuously together, primarily in the realms of the spoken and the unspoken.
When Khoury-Ghata writes, “I say things so as not to say shadows,” the substitution belies an utterance proffered in place of another, not a thing in place of a shadow. Such constructions grow estranged from their point of departure: “she says birds so as not to say war / she says war so as not to say madness of the son and the pomegranate tree.” Death is the silent
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