By Veronica Lee Patterson
Winner of the Colorado booklet Award;Winner of the Willa Literary Award As heard on Public Radio International's The Writer's Almanac! filled with track and evocative note play, Veronica Patterson's Swan, What seashores? deals desirable poems various in shape and artistic in method. In language that's either designated and lyrical, Patterson's paintings, like a lot of the easiest poetry, plumbs the human with intensity, wit, and, especially, compassion. The poems provide wonderful surprises, from the lyrical litany of "The Riddle of My wish" ("the stride of your eyes / a summering of skin") to the weird elegy "Three photos no longer of My Father" to the mysteries embodied in "Where Are My Swans?": "All move of their goals is theirs / that glide-without-haste, for what middle of the universe / has to hurry?" Swan, What seashores? marks the blossoming of an immense poetic expertise.
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The silver powder box played when she lifted its top and smoothed her face to leave. My sister and I hungered for news of her life. Was it coded in braille on the spool, to be freed by the metal comb in the winding down? Music boxes are memory, that tin-sweet half-song, shards of sound sparkling as if through haze and distance. So on an August night stars fell like eighth notes to pin us on army blankets deep in grass. Just so, light beaded on tin lanterns, drops fanfared from sprinklers, minnows ﬂuted in pools.
We see ﬁrst the outlines, then a faint map. And we’re lost again in the whole broken terrain. 18 Marry Me a senryu sequence when I come late to bed I move your leg ﬂung over my side— that warm gate nights you’re not here I inch toward the middle of this boat, balancing when I turn over in sleep you turn, I turn, you turn, I turn, you some nights you tug the edge of my pillow under your cheek, look in my dream pulling the white sheet over your bare shoulder I marry you again 19 Instructions If I am in a coma yet unruined, to light my way back, follow these instructions: As the sun descends, play Dvorák’s New World Symphony.
Of the loon’s cry pouring liquid zero through night and ﬂesh clean to the edge. of watching each tuft loosen: diving ﬂight safety fragile conclusions about love metaphors of journey. Of the dark inner centrifuge restlessly launching plumage black as of night 30 white as of noon. Largo Largo is what I was trying to tell you. I have to write slowly now though I can quicken as the forward did that night when even his fever urged the ball through the only net. Remember how the diver entered the water—the molecules parting in welcome?