In his Editor’s Note, Rhett Trull explains that, while she has “learned the patience, struggle and mercy of a body as it heals,” she recognizes—in the dying of Pita, her 20-year-old cat—that “one day” we will “reach a point past healing.” As a result, “My appreciation for each moment,” she says, has been “reinforced” by the poems she helped select for this issue. The poems, lyric and narrative, feature speakers whose distance from the poets seems slight.
In “Summer Arrives at My Mother’s House,” Susanna Lamey recounts various reasons she loves her mother, then imagines a moment in which her mother, “If she wanted to, / she could reach out and touch that maple branch.” In “Poem for Rebecca Asleep,” Ms. Lamey invests, with loving kindness, a moment in which she lingers over her daughter as she sleeps: “Sleep is a guest in your house / where a wolf waits.”
In “Equal Shine,” Angie Macri gives us “a couple of hours” with “her, a sundial in the sun / in the spaces of the white pine trees.” We learn that the speaker admires quietly and from a short distance the beauty of this particular sunbather (“Sweat crept like me around her bands, / the old bikini frayed as rough grass”), that “She adored the sun like a man, / flat, still under his long hot span” and that, when she espied her bronzed legs, “I longed to polish mine to equal shine.”
In “Body Worlds,” Gabriel Spera gives us a speaker whose respect for our bodies spills out into the lines of the poem, as the guts of a mother after a caesarian birth: “a mophead of guts / and mottled vitals being fished out or stuffed / back in.”
In “After War,” Sara Talpos reflects on DDT in her mother’s life and on her neighbor’s lawn and chemicals in her own as she watches her son and daughter play: “My daughter crawls out / of the sandbox, puts dirt in her mouth…I lift my shirt; / my daughter’s mouth is wide open.”
Karen Holmberg, in “The Sheen Remains,” discovers the value of self-love during a night of horrors in which “I ran / from the house as if I could outstrip / the front of madness, or ride it / to exhaustion, bracing with one hand / my pregnancy’s dense sphere.” Although we don’t learn any specifics regarding threats against her, we do see that she is keen to not wound anything herself.
Throughout the 34 poems by 20 poets are engravings on copper and etchings by Frederick Jones. Each of his seven black-and-white contributions to this issue includes the human figure in a familiar environment, such as a street scene or a shower.
Additional poems by Christina Cook, Jehanne Dubrow, Patricia Fargnoli and Jim Peterson draw the reader’s attention to the world we live in, often with an emphasis on nature, and often with a vision of subtle influence nature has on us, as in “The Necessary” by Jim Peterson:
Nothing clarifies like the cold fingers
and shoulders of such a wind,
polishing you like a deep stone in the creek,
walking alone down the endless street.
A few more poets whose work appears in this issue include Allison Elrod, David Roderick, James Scannell McCormick, Lisa Zimmerman, Jim Daniels, Karen J. Weyant, Shelby Stephenson, Alison Pelegrin and James Doyle.
I recommend this issue particularly to those readers who find they agree with the notion voiced by Rhett Trull at the conclusion of her Editor’s Note: “How sweet it is that with each failure of the body comes an opportunity to cherish the body, to appreciate the journey through which it’s carried us, to hold close once more this life we love.”