Thursday, August 26, 2021


Wasn't I reading this last year at this time? Re-reads are OK for the Sealey Challenge! Checking my blog, I realize I was reading Indigo, by Ellen Bass (Copper Canyon, 2020) last April, during lockdown. See the beautiful fish in this tattoo? I'm also reading Russell Banks's Success Stories (Harper & Row, 1986), with the fish cover, and just finished "The Fish," a sort of fable. Once again, everything connects.

Oh, yes, I remember "smashing / the garlic with the flat of steel" from "Sous-Chef," the opening poem, and I'm back to smashing garlic this way myself, having broken two garlic presses over the past year. "You say how much cinnamon / to spice the stew." When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I thought I smelled cinnamon...

Yes, here are the orange and white high heels she shares with her mother. The chickens named Marilyn & Estelle. The bone china. "Another spoonful of crème brûlée, / sweet burnt crust cracking" (which reminds me of a Jeopardy answer-question). And the contemplation of a good and chosen death in the poem "Enough," which ends with "a fish that couldn't wait to be caught."

"Can a tree be lonely?" is a question in a poem about the old dog Zeke. I'm reading indoors this time, in air conditioning, during a heat advisory in the delayed or prolonged dog days of August. In the next poem, it's December. Life goes as quickly as that. 

The poems of the mother, the mother dying, the mother in the vigor of her life before that. I was meant to be re-reading these poems today in a waiting room, but my mother had to cancel her appointment, not feeling well. 

In "Wilderness," a love poem, the lines "Tell them a story, / you are doing to die" remind me of texts in Deathbed Sext, by Christopher Salerno, earlier this month. "Because What We Do Does Not Die" is a wonderful poem where the mother defends and supports her daughter, getting rid of a bad guy forever.

Ah, here is old Zeke again, in "Ode to Zeke." "I'll fry you a fish." And here is the heroic Lynne, who revives a lizard who was drowning in the swimming pool, in "Kiss," which is the kiss of life.

And I do so love the poem "Indigo," that starts with a tattooed man "pushing one of those jogging strollers / with shock absorbers so the baby can keep sleeping" and ends absorbing the shock of death in the strong, clear voice of a grown-up daughter who is wide awake.

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