Christopher McCurry’s Open Burning speaks of the gradual unraveling of a marriage alongside a father’s growing love for his young daughter. The book contains three categories of poems: ones about his wife, ones about his daughter, and ones about apocalyptic dreams, though these categories bleed into each other. The poems don’t appear to be arranged by the above categories I’ve delineated, or in any chronological order. They are intimate and emotionally intense. I read the collection in one sitting, and it affected me deeply. I felt as if I’d been through an apocalypse along with the people that appear in these poems.
The third category of poems in this collection revolve around his daughter and navigating fatherhood. In “The Name of Your Nail Polish is Free Spirit,” we witness a sweet moment of this father painting his daughter’s fingernails. It opens with the simple, but powerful lines: “First day of second grade / and we are both still learning.” It finishes with the gripping image of the daughter’s “hands steepled. / You’re afraid. It looks like prayer.”
In the poem “Your Personality,” he worries about protecting his daughter, which echoes back to the poem “PG-13 Superhero Movie,” a dream in which envisions him as a superhero searching for his daughter “because what’s the point of all this / fake destruction if there’s not / something so fragile it needs to be saved.” “Your Personality” begins with the lines:
You can find Christopher McCurry online at https://christophermccurry.com/ or https://workhorsewriters.com/.