Saturday, August 14, 2021

Holy Magic

Holy Magic, by Priscilla Long, is another fine book from MoonPath Press in Tillamook, Oregon! The poems are linked by color and light--with epigraphs and section headings that reinforce this--and there are helpful notes at the end, which I always appreciate. The poems have great details of not just of color and light, but also of objects, foliage, fabric, history...and our shameful history. As a kind of summary, I give you this title--"Words Referring to Unspeakable Events"--and the last four lines of that poem:

     Let us speak in poems
     that smoke and flame.
     Let us speak to the dead
     who walk among us.

Another poem, "Matisse's Radiance," which begins with "London in flames" in 1942, also situates us in beauty and silence in this stanza:

     The world in war
     yearns toward evening
     light. Somewhere
     someone pours tea.

And many of the poems find the joy and celebration of color itself, list poems of what is orange or yellow, a marvelous compare/contrast poem called "Indigo & Violet." It's first four lines:

     Indigo's deep, black before dawn.
     Violet's an evening song.
     Indigo's ex is silver,

There is even praise for the "Beauty of Coal"--its color, and remembering what it was, before it was a fossil fuel.

I loved, in "Metamorphosis," the wonderful idea of a poem rhyming with a painting. In "Green Air, the coincidence of the phrase, "On this hot August day..." as I read Holy Magic on a lovely, sunny, glorious August day, the heat actually lifted now by recent thunderstorms, a jet trail slanted in the sky, dispersing into a ghostly spinal column.

There are several elegiac poems here, some to a lost sister, one, "Nisqually Delta," with these lines that give us life itself, color, silence, beauty:

     Great blue herons stand motionless
     as icons. Gulls sail blue air. Ducks
     duck into white water.

Nice how ducks can do their simply ducky thing in the midst of all the holy magic!

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