Ruth Stone has rightly been called America's Akhmatova, and she is considered "Mother Poet" to many contemporary writers. In this, her eighth volume, she writes with crackling intelligence, interrogating history from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman. Wise, sardonic, crafty, and misleadingly simple, Stone loves heavy themes but loathes heavy poems.
"the power of nothing to multiply.
Turning the hand over to become the palm,
for a moment it can shape itself into a cup of water."
In this passage and throughout, Stone seeks a deep acceptance of what is and what has been so that she may live in the now, despite the terrible loss built into our very existence:
"Then the absent tree when the play yard is paved with asphalt,
a blank space where the tree was, a space that the birds pass pver,
where the wind does not pause."
Or in describing her decades as a widow:
"in my thirty years of knowing you
cell by cell in my widow's shawl,
we have lived together longer
in the discontinuous films of my sleep
that we did in our warm parasitical bodies"
In all, she finds "unreasoning hope" in the flights of starlings, in the "language of the meanings within the meanings" contained in the growth of cabbage in her garden, in her dreams and memories. This is an adult book of poetry for those readers who have lived long enough not to be impressed with bathos or the false art of faithless language twisted into pretense. Read it. Savor it.