Poetry pick: Angles of Separation

Yesterday was breakfast with Dad, an unexpected shift at the tasting room, and then performing poetry as part of a memorial dance concert, so I’m a day behind.

Skillman book coverThis week’s poetry pick is Judith Skillman’s Angles of Separation, from Glass Lyre Press. Judith and I send poems back and forth in the mail, so many of these poems were old friends that had changed, grown since I last met them.

They pair deep undercurrents, as though the poet is pulling up buckets from the well of her subconscious, with particular details of the concrete, natural world. The birch, the coyote, the water lily become cohorts, antagonists, stand-ins, or all three as Judith explores the present of aging, motherhood, long marriage and the distant tensions of childhood, what ghosts linger.

From “A Sliver of Heat” we have:

From the white birch trees’ inset eyes
comes the burn-wound
of remembered infant-song.

and later

From the burn-wound of childhood,
its cicadas, second-hand cars, and oil siphoned
into engines where a storm came

And this, from “Like Little Mouths Drinking From”

An urgency inside the bulbs, the roots–
even the Big Leaf Maple whose network

goes deep, limbs branching off
into all the choices made for the girl
by her mother, who gave birth. And the mole

goes on heaping dirt up from the labyrinth,
hands too big for his tiny body.
Sadness in grief too huge for a widow,

This book offers many treasures, including the poems that refer to Prospero and Miranda, and the poem that refers to T. S. Eliot’s “Gerontion.”

For a start, read “Watercress” at Cascadia Review.