In this debut poetry collection, E. McGregor combines the lore of family history with personal memory, vividly parsing patterns of inheritance, particularly through the maternal line.
What Fills Your House Like Smoke begins and ends at the deathbed of the writer’s Métis grandmother. In between, McGregor composes an incomplete and wildly imaginative biography of her grandmother, interrogated by family photographs, stories, and the scant paper trail she left behind.
McGregor sifts through the complexities of motherhood, daughterhood, anxiety, intimate relationships and addiction, weaving family history with memory to make sense of what is carried on. Especially affecting are poems about childhood and the people who disappear from a child’s life, and the struggle to live as a societal outsider, finding strength in self-definition and the power of narrative.
As these poems unfold, they move us toward an understanding of maternal inheritance, shifting identities, forgiveness, and finally love.