The Heiress/Ghost Acres

The Heiress/Ghost Acres

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Author: Lightsey Darst

Publisher: Coffee House Press (2023)

In the nebulous space between collective and autobiographical memory lies family memory—the rituals and routines, places and plants, that bind us to the generations before. In The Heiress/Ghost Acres, Lightsey Darst examines her Southern ancestry and the legacy of white womanhood. As she navigates pandemic isolation and political upheaval, Darst reflects on how history—familial and national—shapes parenting, and interrogates that history in search of more ethical, transformative ways to mother. The Heiress/Ghost Acres points toward a tenable and connected future, one that acknowledges past evils while finding present, potent ways for love to counter violence.

“‘Why was I unprepared to be so loved?’ Where parenthood is the catalyst to politics, Lightsey Darst’s conjoined book grows question after question. How might we survive in a motherland designed to purchase motherlessness? How can we—connected in both silence and radiance—be worth our children’s light? In the bloody midst of a magicless empire, ‘What magic empire might I still build from my blood?’ Dissenting what’s given, she asks and asks and asks. And every so often an answer flowers out: ‘My child is climbing my everything, / climbing the tree of my mind / so I must furiously grow / this apple she’s seeking.’ In other words, Darst is offering us the seeds we need most: restlessness, honesty, awe, and reckoning.” 

Chris Martin