Our families and the people we care about affect much of how we feel or what we do in life, so it’s appropriate that many of the poems in the Spring 2019 issue of Apple Valley Review center on family.
Gail Peck’s speaker thinks of “The Perfume I Never Gave My Mother,” the scents of “flowers [ . . . ] desire [ . . . ] youth” clouding around her as her mother’s health fails, scents reminding her of the way her “mother loved flowers. [ . . . ] Always an arrangement / on her table that could take your breath away.” Mark Belair considers the silence and absence of his grandfather’s house after he dies, offering us a tiny glimpse through “the mail slot,” also the title of the piece. Seen through the innocent scope of the speaker’s childhood self gives us a refresher on loss as he fully understands it for maybe the first time.
Lynne Knight writes of two family members in her set of poems, her father in “At Twenty” and her sister in “After My Sister’s Mastectomy.” The former recounts a tumultuous relationship between father and daughter as she watches him angrily smoke cigarettes on the sidewalk below her apartment. Knight expertly captures the complicated push and pull of loving someone while hating parts of them at the same time:
hating his daughter
even as he loved her, for making him yield
to love’s weakness, its longing
for nothing to change.
The latter poem of Knight’s draws on images of outdoors and nature to explore the finiteness of life while encouraging us to appreciate the bits of beauty, wonder, and humor the outside world offers while we’re here.
In addition to these works, this issue offers much to discover, including two fiction pieces by Jeff Ewing and Jeff Moreland, poems by Doug Rampseck, and more.
Review by Katy Haas