There is a wonderful feeling that comes with reading a lyric essay that feels like I just hovered over what I read. There is a seeing without touching, and reading doesn’t become about good or bad, but just the fact that I read it. It’s like saying “I see you”, to the writer.
Nuria Sheehan starts “Mountain Sleepers” with the sentence, “I woke to the soft slide of wet grass under my legs as my mother pulled me up by the arm…”. Her tone is immediately lyrical, and she takes me into a story that feels as if she is recalling a dream. Sheehan briefly accounts a flash memory when she lived “far out in the desert” where “[she] would live with [her] mother’s boyfriend for the next few years.”
The mystery that surrounds the lyric essay is the mention of a kachina doll, a Hopi indian representation of nature, or any specific idea, that supposedly wakes Nuria Sheehan’s mother and her mother’s best friend Violet from sleeping on the side of the road to tell them that “they did not belong there”. Sheehan questions wether the god-like doll even exists, or like the uncertainties of traveling through snowy Nebraska, the Colorado Rockies, and ultimately to Arizona.
The instability of that age of her childhood ultimately leaves her wondering about the “shimmering and indecipherable nature of the world to me.”