USEREVIEW 065 (Capsule): What We Call Home
Terrence Abrahams X Cleopatria Peterson
What We Call Home (Collusion Books, 2021)
ISBN 978-1-77781-490-8 | 32 pp | $16 CAD — BUY Here
What we call home is a stunning chapbook of prose poems by Terrence Abrahams and Cleopatria Peterson that moves through the love, care and intimacy involved in making a home as two trans and queer poets. The chapbook is one long sequence that begins with objects from the house (“the stink of washed sheets and unwashed dishes, the houseplants churning soil, the dust whispering in the corners”) and moves towards the physical spaces that make up a house (“the garden can’t fit all the clouds today”). This chapbook does not distinguish between Abrahams and Peterson’s voices. The narrative flows from one poem to the next, evoking a feeling of togetherness that is constantly being constructed. Within expressions of love is often heavy grief: “I guess if you can mourn, you’re living. I guess I am living,” reads a poem about a living room. This poem moves on to say “I’m mourning less these days, but that is living.” The language of these poems is akin to delivering a gut punch of emotions over and over again. What we call home is the kind of poetry that breaks you down and builds you back up again.
On page 12 is a poem whose last lines I keep returning to. These lines read: “Say thank you to the water and hope you hear it. Say thank you to the tile and think I could learn something from your kindness.” Building a home, as Abrahams and Peterson explore, is a monumental task, but this poem is one of many that pauses to give gratitude.