The Bad Secret: Poems, Baton Rouge
The Bad Secret takes readers on a dark yet sometimes comic sojourn through the undercurrents of a life suddenly unmoored by grief, and then to the subsequent rise of the spirit to recovery. Tough-minded and intellectual, Judith Harris’s poems are also distinguished by brilliant images close to metaphysical. They reflect on childhood, nature, mental and physical illness, the loss of a mother, and the levity of being simply human. In a voice entirely her own, Harris confronts life’s secrets with their hidden meanings inspired by guilt and redemption, offering a music of tenderness and hope.
I watch it gutter down, over the pine’s edge,
over the pink and orange sunset,
diving into the abyss,
with its wings perpendicular to the ravine.
By now, I have broken off
from the rest, pretending I’m an orphan—
my eyes fixed on the unseeable destructionof my ghost in that suicidal machine.
“Hush,” I say, as if hatred was a sound,
as if I could make the negative positive,
but nature itself has given up on the picture
of my happy family,
and pretends not to look
at the box with the rolled-up Kodak film
tumbling over the ledge
gathering more weight and velocity.—“My Father Throws His Camera Down the Grand Canyon, 1968”