The editors of Sweet say, “We want you to find something here that you need, something perhaps not as practical as a potato, but just as vital.” In this issue, I found something I “need,” and I found it in Anne Haines’s poetry. Contributing three poems, she was able to reach out of her poetry and capture my attention, stirring up feelings that I didn’t know I had. In “Night Language,” the middle stanza stands out:
(My heart: an indoor cat that craves the hunt,
waiting in windows in the quivering
dusk. I want to devour
familiarity, to revisit the animal smell of your hair
in my vigilant dreams.)
And Part III of “Erosion” struck a cord with me; aren’t we all trying to find our place in this world?
Please, I pray inside
my own head, please let me never be
so unsatisfied, so alarming and slow. Let me
be a part of my landscape,
hipslope, eyebright, moon.
If it’s freezing, let me freeze. If it’s
over, let me let it go
with some kind of sweet regret,
some kind of peace.
Let me love what there is to love,
what’s left shining in the stunning wind.
And the first three lines of “Are you the same person you were 30 years ago?” by Roberta Feins are a perfect metaphor: “You make yourself, but others / make thumb-marks in your clay. / Malleable, but you push back.” Along the same lines of questioning originality, Bonnie J. Rough questions what is really permanent in this world in her essay “Beautiful Fountain.” On her trip to Nuremberg, she visits history but soon realizes that everything she sees isn’t always the original like it appears to be:
But the longer I lived in Europe, the more I had to face the fact that even “originals” weren’t original in the sense that I hoped. They had been shined up, brushed off, freshly painted, carefully epoxied, with most parts replaced.
My favorite essay comes from Sheila Squillante who uses recipe essays as a means of coping with the loss of and feelings about her father. In a recipe for and preparation of meat ragu, she continues to go back to the idea of moving on and pushing forward, even when it is painful or it seems there is no hope. What I like most about the piece is how it is honest and how there is no resolution. She is clear that this is her life, and grief and pain are things we must constantly work past.
So, yes, Sweet may not supply that practical potato, but there is certainly lots here that needs to be read.