Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Where the Wolf

The cover, title, table of contents, and my past reading of the work of Sally Rosen Kindred all led me to expect some fairy tales, revisited, in Where the Wolf (Diode Editions, 2021). And isn't it a fantastic cover?--the illustration by Kelly Louise Judd!

In the very first poem, "First Night," is the first mention of the wolf: "outside, in grass moon-wet with night, / a ghost Wolf guarded the yard." The Wolf is a "Her" and a "ghost" and is a presence throughout the book. Crows and the moon are part of the natural landscape here, as well as being images I found in some of the other books this month, but it was also a delightful surprise to find "witchgrass" again, right after yesterday's adventure with Gluck & Chang! And it is not August here in Kindred's book--more often October or November: "Dear October," "Which Way is November..."

There is a complicated mother-daughter relationship, and in "Wednesday's Child" the daughter is at her mother's bedside for a bittersweet couplet:

     You have forgotten you're sorry
     you had me.

And a truly sweet ending with cake:

     ... You do not want us
     to die now. You want me

     to try it, try it honey,
, it's so sweet.

"The Grief Dress" shows us the beautiful, sad family romance. And in "I Tell What Kind of Girl" is the liberation of telling one's story:

     Through the white door

     she could hear
     the pinched hearts of asphodel--
     and then it opened
     like mercy, like breath,
     when she began to tell.

"Wolf Hour" brings us into the woods and into a timeless hour in numbered sections. Section 2:

     Still you'll walk
     these woods dulled by oaks,
     dusk-muddled, staggering their golds--

     the leaves torn,

     withholding--these woods
     without wolf's throat, her cape, and the wind
     all hinge and pity.

Gorgeous. I love how the sounds and the scatter of words on the page help the wind do its work. In the same poem, the line, "You had a mother once" hurts. "She spoke in the language of wolves // and the moon heard and shut its stone door."

And the poem "Mast Year" taught me what a mast year is, one that contains a bumper crop of fruit or nuts. The internet tells me 2020 was a mast year for acorns. "My mother still knows what a mast year is" though she's forgotten her daughter. Such sadness in this book, such beauty, such resilience. 

And, as it's still August when I emerge from these woods, I find joy in a bumper crop of peaches! Ah, a Fat Tuesday in the blog!

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