Friday, August 13, 2021

Slight Faith

Risa Denenberg of Slight Faith (MoonPath Press, 2018) might have slight faith in me now, as I got her book way back in 2018 intending to review it for Escape Into Life (as some of its poems were published there), and here it is, August of 2021, in my Sealey Challenge stack! That is 1) how slowly I sometimes read for reviewing 2) a stack mishap of some sort 3) evidence of the ongoing suspension of time, and 4) a wonderful coincidence because I am reading the right book at the right time!

"This is how you curl into your solace," says the poem "Consolation," bringing me great solace, "bidding its shell // to your mollusk, storm of sea blowing in your ear, / inexpressible pain expressed sotto voce." Here is "Swimming Lesson," on the last day of Early Bird Lap Swim! Here, in the astonishing poem "How Two Trees Become a Forest," are the lines, "An / Afghani schoolgirl covers her head and walks to the / schoolhouse with broken windows" which I read soon after hearing the news of the current exodus from Afghanistan of US-related people (and some Afghani interpreters), while so many must be left behind in such troubled circumstances.

Here, in "Life Forms Evolving," well before our current Covid crisis, are Ebola, Hep C, and HIV. Several poems take us to the sad and shocking era of AIDS, our awful losses there. A right-book-at-the-right-time thing: I'm also reading the novel The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkei, taking me back to those worries and fears. In "Yellow Star," we recall many disasters--the holocaust, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the AIDS epidemic:

     They didn't want to die so young
     and neither did the gay boys who died in droves
     at the close of the last century.

From "Abiding Winter," "Truth is brutal. So much we can't recover...."

I so love "The Outsider." Here's a great, straightforward stanza from that:

     I'm the oddball: vegetarian lesbian poet
     who celebrates Pesach to their Easter, rents instead
     of owns, has never married, chooses to live alone.

This poet is roaming, nomadic in "In Search of Home." Another fantastic stanza:

     I always depart. Things don't work out as planned.
     I clash with the boss and get fired. I My lover
     takes a lover. I feel hemmed in and need to escape
     the hundreds of tiny holes in my heart.

And I so connect with "the worry / I've lived the wrong life" in the poem "On Leaving the Barn Door Open." 

I learned words from this book--"metanoia" (spiritual conversation), "foraminifers" (tiny shells that form a kind or rock, a component of chalk), "foramen ovale" ("a hole / in the heart that must close at birth.") Here is the confident, yet heartbroken voice of "Metanoia Lost" and of the book as a whole:

     I speak god language
     because people die
     and god is the tongue of death.

The cover is gorgeous. The Dove, No. 5 (1915) by Hilma af Klimt. My bookmark for this one is the postcard of the cover!

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