A Guest In All Your Houses
Faced with non fiction accounts of a culture and its traditions of which I know little about, I first studied this collection as a stranger, awestruck by Mr. Ludwin’s poetic abilities.
I was fascinated by the ease with which the poet used metaphors throughout, as in Among the Fundamentalists at Short Creek, “The earth itself now a secret/withheld from the mirror…”
His use of similes, as in The Source, “…I swung her around and pulled her against me,/ her body fitting in perfect, mysterious synch/ like a wall of Inca stones.”
As well as delivering effective guided imagery, for instance in his poem, Symbiosis, where he describes heat so hot his readers feel its burning sensation. Here he describes Gilberto Luna, “How in the mid-1800s he settled/ here in a desert so brutal/ a doorknob can singe a dream...”
Successfully painting vivid pictures of his native heritage and own intimate experiences.
In his poem, Comanche Moon, 1844, Peter shares with us the dread one woman endures as her enemies approach, “Once before she saw them/ from a distance, the finest horsemen in the world,/ ...She’s heard stories/ of capture, of ingenious torture, her thoughts/ branded as surely as if she’d pressed a glowing/ poker to her skin, the stench of burnt flesh/ a cautionary tale woven through her dreams/ by wolves tracking a deer from its scent.”
I found many of Peter’s poems brilliantly narrated with sombre undertones that tugged at my heart strings, calling upon my compassionate side. Before long I discovered myself yearning to “belong”, to gain a better understanding of the history behind it all amidst a strong desire to shed personal ignorance in the spirit of fellowship.
The poet gives the wind, the earth and the sky their own voice that speaks to his readers in ways only inhuman creations of nature can, sharing wisdom in its purest form through a sense of spiritual enlightenment. In his poem, Driving North toward the Hopi Reservation, we are reminded, “So open this land/ even the fences along the road/ sing their freedom./ …and the sky says I rule the earth/ and I have no horizons,/ and I say I am the wind,/ I will be a guest in all your houses.”
Sizable entries of unfamiliar text throughout this inspiring collection enticed me to further research their meaning on Google in order to internalize the true essence of the poet’s words. It is only after reaching the end of the book that I became aware of the “Notes” section at the back which offers valuable insight helping me immensely in preparation for a second reading. It is suggested to those in need of clarity that the notes be visited simultaneously as the reader enjoys each poem.
In the beginning, I came to this collection feeling like a stranger and left feeling in the end like a gentle wind; a warm, welcomed guest. I recommend A Guest In All Your Houses for its well-written poetic styles, its content and for its capacity to shed light on a fascinating culture.