“Turning, Returning” by Alex Fabrizio
Alex Fabrizio is a University Fellow and MFA candidate in Poetry at The Ohio State University. She is a University of Florida alumna and is originally from Orlando.
Every family has its stories, the narratives that define its members and how they relate to each other and to the world. They can change depending on who tells them and why. And then, because people are never simple, there is conflicting evidence. Fortunately, the poet has given us an honest speaker with the benefit of hindsight. Della doesn’t scruple to shield the reader from the effects of her parents’ dysfunction, from the humiliation of wetting the bed, but she also shows us her father’s fearless joy at her birth. Only then do the photos surface to fill in the affection missing from her mother’s story. In a less nuanced poem, they could have functioned as a simplistic affirmation, but here they expand our understanding of the speaker’s hurt and hunger to be loved.
The story in this poem is so fully realized, so well encapsulated that the typeface needed to stay out of the way. Optima treads a middle ground, combining the sans serif emphasis on clean ascenders and descenders with a slight serif to anchor each letter. It mirrors the balance with which the poem’s speaker considers her two, very imperfect parents. It’s harmonious, even when the text alternates between roman and italic styles. To offset the harmony, there is the jazz of Santa Fe for the titles. It suggests the neon of an all night diner where a poet might flesh out a story like this.