Saturday, August 28, 2021


Here is another clear-voiced Ohio poet, like Rita Dove (yesterday!) or Mary Oliver, who are among the Ohio poets included in Maggie Smith's intermittent "Ohio Cento," a series of poems in Goldenrod using lines by various Ohio poets to shape new poems. They are beautiful and deep. "Everything is true," says her daughter in the poem "Lacrimae," which means tears. And everything feels true to me in the poems in this book. And how delightful that the title poem takes place "near Peoria," and I am near Peoria! And the goldenrod is near to blooming, as summer ends and fall is looming.

This is the poet of "Good Bones," that poem that comforted us even as it looked reality in the face. Here, I feel her melancholy, her despair at the state of our country, her questioning of what it means to be human right now, "who cringes to say recognition," looking at the mirror in the poem "Walking the Dog." Yes, it's hard to see ourselves when we look at humanity today. In all the ways.

Still, I recognize myself in her poems--"near Peoria," yes, but also "In the Grand Scheme of Things" with wrens chattering in the back yard...which happened while I was reading this morning, the screen door open. I identify with her in "Poor Sheep": "I am transparent and quiet." I recognize the "gray mange" and remember the "wolf" in "Wild." I, too, feel like I am "feeding myself to the hungry future."

There are bones in this book. But this is a book of "the good dark," not the "good bones." In "How Dark the Beginning," she asks:

     We talk so much of light, please
     let me speak on behalf

     of the good dark. Let us
     talk more of how dark

     the beginning of a day is.

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