Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Poem: I Tell People I’ve Let You Go

In her "October 2016 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews," Grace Cavalieri includes in her monthly feature that looks at books of and about poetry, Maria Gillan's new collection and a poem from the book.

Mazziotti Gillan is an exemplar of a poet consciously living. From this, comes her creating — an awareness of each moment of the past and how it impacts the present. To read this book is to read a life force of ancestry, history, family, immigration — all used to open us up. The human experience is here with its great range of loss and life’s small favors, breathing out poems from the heart — the baseline of Mazziotti Gillan’s poetic energy. Awareness of her actions, and acceptance of every day’s fate are her strong points. These would be ineffective if it were not for her learned poetic techniques that sell the poems from the pages. She activates each story with precise detail; she energizes with character, place, and situation, then finally she anchors the poem to permanence, reaching to those qualities inside us that want to become alive again. I’ll read this book if ever I forget the purpose of poetry — if ever I start believing it’s only about the adornment of language. This is the stuff that made humankind want to speak, to write.

I Tell People I’ve Let You Go

At 3 a.m., I wake up in my hotel bed.
I reach out expecting to find you there,
though you died three years ago.
I tell people I’ve let you go,
but that is a lie.

Last night at the dinner party, laughing and talking,
I remembered those evenings when we hosted
such parties—all the laughter and food and conversation.
The sicker you became the fewer the parties,
until we moved the table out of the dining room
and moved in your bed and hospital equipment,
Hoyer lift and wheelchair,
the buffet strewn with pill bottles.

Here in this candlelit dining room,
surrounded by such warmth,
I am overcome by grief.
How long will it take
before the memory of you will fade,
the life I thought we’d have already vanished
and in its place, this silence, sharp edged
as a razor slicing through all my defenses.
No lie can tell myself
that will make you live again
and bring back the young couple we were,
all our lives before us, our faces lit from within,
all the things we didn’t know waiting to drop
on our oblivious heads like nets.

Titles for October

  • Mean Numbers by Ian Ganassi. China Grove Press. 110 pages.
  • Scriptorium by Melissa Range. Beacon Press. 67 pages.
  • What Blooms in Winter by Maria Mazziotti Gillan. NYQ books. 116 pages.
  • There Now by Eamon Grennan. Graywolf Press. 64 pages.
  • Bugs Us All. Poems by Scot Slaby, drawings by Walter Garbo.Entasis Press. 29 pages.
  • Glass Harvest by Amie Whittemore. Autumn House Press. 74 pages.
  • A Map Of Signs And Scents: New & Selected Poems, 1979-2014, by Amjad Nasser, Translated from Arabic by Fady Joudah and Khaled Mattawa.
  • Plus Best Anthologies, Literary Periodicals and Prose for October.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the author of twenty-one books. Her latest publications are the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter. Maria's official website is at MariaGillan.com.

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