Who knew that Tom Sexton’s “On the Death of Seamus Heaney” would elicit such an outpouring of homage and lament? And that this flood of longing and loss would resonate with the outer world so fully?
We have lived through a torturous 18+ months of pandemic and borne witness to the convolutions of America’s political and emotional psyches. Fear, Denial, Conspiracy, our new bedfellows, Science and Reason on the ropes. In spite of, or because of this chaos, a common thread of death and loss persists. Fortunately for us, the artist Babette Barton shares a bright light within these pages which gives us a little more room to breathe and to bear what is.
Alongside Heaney, you will find the resonance of others beloved: Rilke and Dylan, Don James, Eva Dũrrenfeld, Susan Whearat, Alex Leavens, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, fathers (with special thanks to Jeff Burt), grandmothers (Karen Jones), sisters (Brigitte Goetze), and mothers (Ellen June Wright).
Also, places: Natalie Callum’s Wyoming where she understands “what it is to be close and far. . . In the distance dust rises like mist, like fog, like God.” Or back at “Ranch House Days” with Dale Cottingham because he’s “got to be on [his] own for once . . . find [his] way to the creek where water held underground springs into light.” Callista Markotich takes us to the sea where we are the “honed beach-log smoothed by turmoil.”
The journey continues to the Luckiamute with Marc Janssen, the Salmon River with Ash Good, to Maine, to Dublin, to the Outer Hebrides—no lack of longing for peace and beauty. No lack of praise.
Cacophony of cicadas, Corvids bearing witness, Amelia Díaz Ettinger’s Grackles with their “loose colony of familiar ancestry,” dogs, and the feline Mr. Mo. This well-populated world is speaking to us through the pens of poets. Pull up a chair and take a listen.
As always, if you like what you read, please share! Meanwhile, the turn of seasons makes its dramatic shift in this Pacific Northwest, just as we round the corner to the equinox. Some rhythms remain intact. I take heart in that.
Yours in poetry,