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She Walks Into the Sea

from poet Pattiann Rogers:
"The language throughout the poems in She Walks Into the Sea is as vibrant, varied, and abundant as field flowers and grasses across a June countryside. The voice of these poems blends and encompasses like an easy wind, measuring and controlling the motion by which one passes through their landscapes. It speaks of the mysterious certainties and beautiful lies of nature, including human. If there is such a thing as a perfectly crafted poem, then a reader will find more than one in this book."

* * *

Patricia Clark's poems explore not only refuge but also wonder and appreciation, as well as astonishment.


A number of the 56 poems collected here show the poet grappling with loss, especially of her mother, though this writer is not one to give a number to loss. Instead, one goes walking. It is the harp tree in "The Poplar Adrift" that Clark imagines giving voice to sorrow and thus sparing those who stroll by—"all the grief that passes" becoming, in the tree's very fibers, sound on the air, a wind through branches and leaves.


The speaker also finds chances for learning, for meditation and contemplation. Octavio Paz has written, "Nature speaks as though it were a lover." In many of the poems collected here, Clark's speaker listens to nature speaking and revels in this lover, aiming to capture some of the qualities of Michigan's trees, birds, and landscapes in lyric poems.


Here is a poet who meditates while cooking, finding the occasion for making soup a transcendent moment, accidentally discovered.


After the water boiled, the flesh slipped off the bones
the way a glove slides from the fingers, as though the meat
had long wished to leave the skeleton's tree.


By the time the knife slips and the writer cuts herself, "Two Deaths" (a central poem in this volume) takes a leap, the reader following eagerly:


. . . at the same time
sensing I was being pulled up and out of myself—
glimpsing, now, our house from a tree-top height,


. . .


so much separating,
ligament from bone, flesh from gone, heart, tendon, beak,
wingtip, knuckle, and nail. Drifted, drifting, tasted, gone.


It is Clark's particular gift to give us "tasted" as she draws her readers into the world, inhabiting the worlds of nature, head and heart.