What Drifted Here by Barabara Siegel Carlson is a book of intensely lyrical meditations that dwells in the silent, often overlooked or seemingly ordinary places where the mysterious and miraculous abide, and where amidst love and grief, we draw ever closer to the heart of the spiritual. The poems, some in prose form and dramatic monologue, take dreamlike leaps into worlds both personal and historical, glimpsing through the cracks something we can never wholly know but which leaves us changed.
Judy Rowe Michaels’ sixth bout of cancer coincided with a deeper grief: her husband’s sudden death, the end of a forty-four-year marriage. Yet the poems in This Morning the Mountain, in their various turnings, reveal unexpected moments of comfort, resilience, even laughter: the pet cat’s growling capture of a broiled shrimp, “like the fierce hunter he was meant to be”; an arresting improvisation by a favorite jazz pianist; a prisoner’s empathic insight about a poem—“I guess cancer could be a prison too.” Ranging from villanelle to prose poem to irregular stanzas that surge, stumble, or sprawl across a page, these poems find the music to explore not only our natural fears of loneliness, insufficiency, heartbreak, and death but the celebration of love.
Drawing from Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, Leaving the Base Camp at Dawn explores how a long relationship of love is like a spiritual practice, a challenge to live in true care and compassion with those to whom we are closest. Interspersed throughout this lyric and narrative sequence are 14 poems that travel cliffs, streams and dirt paths and envision climbing a mountain whose peak cannot be reached. This contemplation of the challenge of love makes us think deeply about finding grace and charity in the ordinary moments of our daily life. Sample poems can be read on the publisher’s website.