My friend Mary Adams is such a good poet that words fail me. But they never seem to fail her.
So, it's not surprising that Spring Street Editions, in collaboration with Ash Creek Press in Portland Oregon, has launched its chapbook series with WCU professor Mary Adams’s Commandment. Mary’s first book, Epistles From the Planet Photosynthesis, was published in the University of Florida Press’s poetry series. Her work has earned her a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other honors. These new poems show her to be one of the finest formalists writing today. Former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell says, “I have read with great admiration and genuine enjoyment the poems in this chapbook. “ He praisesThe intricate overlaying of separate landscapes and timeframes in the poems, their often “Dantean” focus, and concludes by saying that he will be re-reading this collection with pleasure, “going back and forth amongst the poems because I think I hear echoes.They seem linked to me and Commandment a whole. Congratulations on a fine performance!” Ron Rash praises the book, saying” Frew contemporary poets can match her combination of craft and feeling, which makes this new collection all the more welcome. She is a poet of the first rank.”
By Mary Adams
When we were lonely
blessed us. Earth
filled us. Birth
welled like morning,
poured over the void
and we said
nothing could quiet this
urge, this riot, this
And then the doe
so wild going so
still, saw the brink
of wilderness sink
in our plenty, our
pity. Oceans for
which we longed dried
and our best laid
the world waste:
it wasn’t just
never enough love
that Jesus suffocated of.
-- after Mr. Lloyd Alexander, 1924-2007
To console you for growing old, I got you a gift
to take you out of time. Not poems, which are always
ending after they start. And not knitting,
which if worn you might wear out. The best
gifts are light, but not too light, and flow
everywhere, like the ache of debt. This year
your gift should signify the infinite.
So I got you kittens, tricked by your own fingers
from the wild. Because they compound eternally,
but warmer. Because a single box contains
all kittens till it’s opened. Because a kitten
mewing makes a butterfly make a tornado.
Because a knotting of kittens extends in a plane
forever. Because a dying kitten is
impossibly light, and a lost kitten’s cry
is bottomless. And since each kitten wells
with the cat of danger, we know every cat
wears kittens like an urge. None is ever
really lost. Then cats point both ways always.
Now you are grown, here are all your kittens,
new again, like money you found in the laundry.
Heft them gently. Feel in their small hearts
your trembling. Calm them in the morning
of your fears. When you are sad, speak
them like cadences, kitten of cross-fire,
kitten of backflip, kitten of glory, kitten of
clutching, kitten of pestering and plummet, spindly
kitten, hungry kitten, kitten of solace.
Wonderful -- I especially like the kitten one, having, as I do, the conviction that a kitten or puppy is a poultice for any ailment.
These are wonderful! My hat is off my head!
Enjoyed these quite a bit and agree totally with Rash's statement.
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