Posts Tagged ‘Gail Peck The Perfume I Never Gave To My Mother’

I very much enjoyed the poem “The Perfume I Never Gave To My Mother,” by Gail Peck in the Spring issue of Apple Valley Review. It begins, “I bought in France… Her lungs had worsened, / and… I knew / she’d never wear the perfume…” We experience the power of what is left unsaid. Peck creates this effect, I think, by having the poem remain very image-specific, very in the moment. “Think flowers — rose, violet, jasmine… think desire — someone holding you.”
And the little quirky details keep us entranced. A sweet poem.

Doug Ramspeck gives us “Overuse.” “My mother used to say she lived for… wonder. She meant birds… And always it seemed she clotted wounds with words.” There is a smile underneath these phrases, early in the poem, that draws our sympathy. Then comes a revelation of the more difficult side of life. “The dead / know the names… not the soft names / but the hard ones.” Such original, concrete images. And the relationship between the narrator and his mother remains in the foreground all through the work. A powerful poem.

Somehow many of these poems deal in silence. Take “The Platter,” by Idris Anderson. “Time to seek old objects in thrift shops… prowl the spew / from garages.” (Always there appears a surprising turn of phrase like that. An unusual word, but the right one). How does she bring silence into this poem? I think through phrases like this: “everything else / was closed. Sleet and gray air. It was cold…” Situations and moments where no one is speaking, no one would be speaking. There is a power in such silence to make us reflect on our own world, on how our lives intersect with the author’s own. “The grating withdrawal of memory.”

“Agoraphobia, The Fear Of The Gathering Place,” by Christopher Todd Anderson, also begins with a sharp smack: “I hate the sky: that crisp blue sheet / never wrinkles, hides nothing.” The poem proceeds clearly, and simply, from stanza to stanza. “Earth is no better: soil churns up artifacts.” The chaos of life, the uncertainty, the finality are all here. “dirt / washes from the eyes of the dead.” A poem to raise the hackles on your neck. “The ocean harbors too many arms / and eyes.” Masterful work.

Peace in Poetry,

P M F Johnson

My book of poems, Against The Night, a wry look at a love that builds through a long marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

Related blog posts:

The New Yorker – Apr 29 2019

Plainsongs – Winter 2019

The Missouri Review – Winter 2018


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