Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314

Ginger Murchison
a scrap of linen, a bone
by Ginger Murchison

A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection

ISBN 978-1-941209-33-2
9 X 6 paperback, 82 pages
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Ginger Murchison started writing poetry after a thirty-one-year teaching career. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College and, together with Thomas Lux, helped found POETRY at TECH at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as associate director for five years and as one of its Visiting McEver Chairs in Poetry. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Frost Place, is a member of the conference faculty for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and is Editor in Chief of the acclaimed Cortland Review. She has two grown children, Arienne and Jason, and lives with her husband Clyde Mynatt in Ft. Myers, Florida.
These are made poems. These are earned poems. These are poems of a full-fledged grownup who understands and celebrates the “slow hungers” that “breathe / beneath leveled dreams, / the South’s muscular sky / painted over now, paler blue.” This book will offer you welcome and pleasure.

Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand

From where she stands in her fine first book of poems, a scrap of linen, a bone, Ginger Murchison can see in many directions—back to Stone Mountain and the earlier generations of her family, forward into the prospective futures of her progeny where “hunger and love have the same stinging insistence,” and widely from her own residence as neighbor, citizen, and poet. Murchison is a gifted lyric poet with a flair for story and character; thus, one by one, her rich, ever-focused poems cohere into an expansive historical document. The personal fuses with the cultural, as “between the corset and the right to vote,” and even the natural, reflects a human sense of order and a disordering profusion, like the seed-strewing “cottonwoods [as they] lose their minds.” To keep such abundance in order, Murchison exerts her own formal pressure, where “all those Mason jars / [are] labeled and lined up like soldiers” and a quilt-maker’s task is to “pay attention to lines.” It’s a poet’s rich imagination at work, making lines so capably sure, yet elastic and inclusive, that the result is “an oversized musical score,” and we’re all invited to dance. 

David Baker, author of Scavenger Loop: Poems

Aware of the invisible labor that makes things shine and the lived past that invests worn objects with the sheen of meaning, these poems, irrepressible in spirit and richly metaphoric, transform the mundane into “a luminescence / breaking open / the putty-colored day.” And what an expressive range—from the soaring ride in the tour de force “Roller Coaster” to the quiet of “leaves / pushing their way out of the pithy dark / to give us April / a good place to lay down our grief.”

Eleanor Wilner, editor of The American Poetry Review

Praise for a scrap of linen, a bone


Roller Coaster

It starts with the climbing in,
nerved-up enough
for that defiance
of gravity, the slow-grind 
rackety-clack one-inch cog
at a time—the mystery of machinery, 
the sane and safe weightedness 
of stiff-starched values, 
wondering if there were 
sins we’d committed 
since our last confession, then 
at the top, out on the edge, 
beyond the solid-ground world 
parents live in, test life, 
theirs and our own, up where 
we are a hole in the sky, 
wholly abandoned in the eyes-
shut, heart-stopped drop, 
like lawlessness on falling’s 
crisp speed, the first curve, a blur, 
the world’s suddenness,
metal, air and a prayer
half-mouthed, spun,
flung into another plunge,
a curve swerving, 
a tiny boat in a tempest—
and isn’t this how we want 
to live, live higher up, 
hungry to leave the ground,
flinging sparks, the lights brighter,
the dark darker, our bodies at war 
with mere air, but still obedient 
to the tracks laid down 
to keep us on track.


At this angle of hours,
the orchestra all oboes—
sighs and regrets
like kisses, blown goodbyes
through the sea oats—

the windfall pears
have mostly gone to ooze
seeped into the earth,
all these trees
unclothed to cold,
the last of the shining
downstream by now.

Slow hungers breathe
beneath leveled dreams,
the South’s muscular sky
painted over now, paler blue.

Cover artist Dawn D. Surratt studied art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a recipient of the Spencer Love Scholarship in Fine Art. She has exhibited her work throughout the southeast and currently works as a freelance designer and artist. Her work has been published internationally in magazines, on book covers, and in print media. She lives on the beautiful Kerr Lake in northern North Carolina with her husband, one demanding cat and a crazy Pembroke Welsh Corgi.