And I am white hot,
for a smithy,
the careful taps and blows
that leave me ringing...
I can't believe I hadn't read this book until now, as I am an admirer (and previous reviewer) of Zipter's work. True, in 1990, when it was published, I was busy having a baby. And I love the poems about various children in the "Learning to Dare" section of this book. So much joy and hope. Elsewhere, there is so much loss and grief, and a devastating "Daddy" poem of early trauma. And such beautiful poems about the death of a beloved mother. In "Oral History,"
I hate talking to you like this,
death between us like a stuck door.
We should be sitting at a kitchen table,
cups of hot coffee (decaf), steam
curling across your dry cheek, you
telling me about my childhood, yours,
talking about operations, lovers, scars,
we never dared or didn't know
to ask. This is a tradition
among women: oral history.
So much irreplaceable
has been lost.
What has been lost is somehow found in the poem "That Much," a happy memory that might be mostly imagined, a "frozen moment that most likely / never happened.
...We are smiling, silent
except for love. That much
And, speaking of reality, Zipter's poem "Reality" is a wonderfully prescient and pertinent philosophical ramble on it: "Reality / is as hard to pin down as a politician / or an angry kid."
I love this book, and love reading it late, as I know the newfound love, patiently waited for, was real, has lasted, has lived many anniversaries beyond its charming, goofy one-year "Anniversary Waltz." And I love how the last poem, "Loss," turns about to be a funny, sweet poem not really about loss!
I don't want to lose you, I whisper.
"Like at the mall?" you say,
infusing the dark with light.
Yes, at the mall.
I'll leave the rest for you to find.