Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
The collection Calling Myself Home includes ten poems in the first section, “By the Dry Pond,” dedicated to the author’s sister. The second part has sixteen poems under the heading “Heritage.” The first ten poems are reflective meditations that turn to an arid and materially impoverished landscape, yet the poems present memories full of wonder and reverent attention to details of landscape, as well as awareness of connectedness to a historic and prehistoric past. The frequent references to the ancient turtle inhabiting the now-dry pond, for instance, offer an image of patient endurance and survival and an allusion to the great tortoise that, in many Native American mythologies, supports the world on its back. The title poem, “calling myself home,” weaves themes together in its imaginative depiction of old women dancing to the rattles they create from turtle shells and pebbles. The speaker goes on to express an identity of connection among herself, her people, and the ancient ones: All are compared to the turtle, a natural emblem of patience and ancient wisdom as well as a crucial figure in many American Indian myths. Such affinity between people—especially women—and their land creates great strength. The generations of women forebears the author celebrates become part of the strength of the earth. Paradoxically, the speaker ends the poem on a note of farewell, stating that she has come to say goodbye, yet the substance of the poem indicates...
(The entire section is 546 words.)
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