I've followed Amber Decker and her poetry for some time now with respect and admiration. Instructions for the Proper Cremation of Your Grief, is a smartly produced 4-by-6 perfect-bound chapbook from Folkways Press, which reads as well as it looks.
Take as an example the poem "Coal Miner's Daughter," a dangerous title with all of its cultural associations. Decker uses them to full advantage, the details of mystery beginning to coalesce and eventually blossom from the initial lines excerpted below to the in the final two lines of the poem: "the crooked gravestones/of every small-town churchyard."
I am a lover of all the dark places
the headlights of my car can never touch.
My empty womb is jealous
of the warm orchards
where the black-eyed children
of Appalachia gather at night
to pick apples
with their skeletal fingers
by the light of the moon.
These lines, fecund with possibility, highlight a collection rich in detail and a lyrical expression for which many poets would extract their eyeteeth. Toward the end of the book, in "Elegy," the narrative opens with "grief knocking/at the doorways of my eyes," and whose "bones [are] busy trying to climb out of my skin." There's a texture of felt-life detail here that both impress and express, shock and awe, in demotic lyrics that go forthrightly from a female persona and assail with words an imagined world, resolving it in twice earned–at least– emotion. This is a fine chapbook, in short.