Today I slipped on the ice and fell. My knee is now rather purple and it's swollen into a bit of a knot. My hand is all scraped up and all I want to do is whimper, whine, take an aspirin and curl up with Becoming Chloe. Of course, there's no point in wallowing, so I'll post instead. Besides, compared to what the Scottish sisters Jeannie and Sarah experience in Helen Frost's The Braid, I'm a big klutzy wuss. There are no grounds for denial of this statement (follow the 'klutz' label for more classic examples).
1850. The Highland Clearances are forcing thousands of people to emigrate from Scotland. Jeannie leaves with her parents and two younger siblings. Sarah hides herself away until her family has left, then travels with her grandmother to live on an island - a place where it isn't more profitable for the landlords to raise sheep than collect rent. Connecting the sisters is the titular braid - a twist of each girls' hair - held safe for remembrance. Each girl faces hardships. Not everyone makes the crossing to Canada, where there isn't a home or work waiting for the family anyway. Their struggles are different; Jeanie's are more physical and environmental, where Sarah's are more emotional and social. Each find reserves of strength and become women in the poems before our eyes.
Frost's form is elaborate, inspired by the Celtic knot and explained fully in the afterward. I have to acknowledge the ingenuity of the endeavor, but must admit that had it not been covered in the afterward, I would have missed the importance of what she had done. This can also be attributed to my laziness as a reader who has become to expect less from prose poetry. I'm happy that she has added a degree of difficulty to the genre in this moving and readable story.