White Eagle Coffee Store Press 2009 Poetry Chapbook Winner
The Possibility of Scorpions by Connemara Wadsworth
The Other, wood block print
April Kendziora Smith
The Possibility of Scorpions chronicles two years in the life of a seven-year-old girl who journeyed in 1952 from Boston to Baghdad with her family. Wadsworth's strength lies in the compassion with which she depicts the Iraqi people, the humility of her vision, the attentiveness with which she describes this "hot world." The speaker is constantly peering beyond the "limits" of her separateness to see the people of Baghdad as they are. The objectiveness and precision of Wadworth's lines belie a passionate empathy for men who "hawk wares from straw baskets" and women "baking bread in mud ovens/over dung fires." In an age of preemptive war and unmanned bombings, The Possibility of Scorpions feels necessary and humanizing.
Call to Prayer
My brother and I squat behind the fence
of sticks that circles the honey seller's yard,
watch him ready for the prayers
he is called to offer, mirroring
the soft movements of his robes
and his chiseled features' ease.
In the spare dirt space he sweeps
a flat rock with the attention
of brushing a child's hair,
and lays over it a rug of colors,
the stone as wide and long as he.
From a bowl he washes hands,
face, feet, kneels toward Mecca,
lips moving as he bows, rises.
A stillness full as rain leaps
beyond the man's body
enveloping us. Abandoning
our game, we creep away.
Connemara Wadsworth graduated from Friends World College, an international program, which took her to the American South, Denmark, Kenya, and Mexico, where she studied education and began writing. She was a weaver and then an elementary school teacher. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Poet Lore, Comstock Review, Ibbetson Street, and Bloodroot Literary Magazine, as well as the anthology Passionate Hearts by Wendy Maltz. She has three grown children and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
From the Author
The Possibility of Scorpions represents my gathering, sifting, and trying to reconcile the diverse and complex experiences I had as an American child in Iraq. Both my parents were architects and my father accepted a Fulbright Grant to teach in Baghdad's College of Engineering from 1952-54 before the Revolution in 1958. I began writing about our lives there long before the onset of the Persian Gulf War and our current "war against terror," both of which rekindled many more memories. Living in such a vastly different culture with a very rich history left many impressions on me. There I saw the beauty and struggles, and the strengths and seams of life. This laid a foundation for a deep sense of a wider world and led to a commitment to exploring other cultures. My parents were people who questioned and learned as much as they could throughout their lives, providing me with some tools and an incentive to explore what has fascinated, perplexed, and haunted me.