Original poem reprinted online here: "Story from Another Inquisition" by Rachel Mennies
Originally read: December 20, 2012
More information about the Poet: Rachel Mennies
"The end is good; however, I feel this poem is a bit cliche kind of like 'she's torturing herself with secrets' feel" The poem itself isn't cliche, and has two interesting narrative depiction -- one of Deborah (current) and the one of the relative in Argentina.
I'm more inclined to think the Deborah part of the poem is a bit more cliche especially from the transition between 1st and 2nd stanza "but harkens to a parted sea, / a mat of smoke and ocean / on the tongue." Looking back, it's more of that the Deborah part is more general (images, ideas, generalization) while the Argentine relative has more specific detail (speaks Spanish to mailman, speaks polish to wife).
Maybe it's the volta in the poem -- the transition back to Deborah where I feel the poem becomes a little cliche, "Maybe Deorah's always been good / at keeping her own secrets -- the clarinet / that makes her weep." It's not the content, it's more of the execution. The volta reads as though from the back of the book blurbs that try to hook you in, "maybe..."
However, the "maybe" in this story adds to Deborah's own indecisiveness about herself. I mean it's there, but there's other ways to do that in a poem -- I guess (see now I'm doing it).
For me, I hung onto the strongest part of the poem until the end where religious doubt comes in.
Also, it feels like I've seen this technique before: present, flashback, present, epiphany ending. I can't pinpoint where though.