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Poetry Reviews    

 

White for Harvest: New and Selected Poems
By Jeanie Thompson
River City Publishing, 2001
ISBN: 0-913515-48-5

 

 
 

With finely honed imagery, an award-winning poet evokes some of the special places, people, moments, and spiritual epiphanies that have shaped her as an artist, and as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and colleague.

 "December Hawk Flight: North Alabama" reveals the turbulent underside of a quiet pastoral scene:

"In this moment/ hard with rapture/ the pair of hawks wheels from the winter tree/
parting above us, crying/ to one another/ as they circle/
their reconnaissance of power/ dwarfing the northern field/ where a mouse/
throbs in the stubble—/ its fear freezing/ to a brush stroke./"

"Ruth's Song" expresses the agrarian ethic in biblical terms:

"Here on the threshing floor/ we lift the grain to heaven,/ believing the wind, that sustaining/ breath, will bear our lives—/and scatter them—/
so that we fall gently to the harvest/ of each other's arms."

An ambitious, well-executed sequence of three narrative poems is based on the life of the 12th century mystic, nun, and poet Hildegarde.

This excerpt from "Farewell to a Garden" illustrates the meditative slant of some of the more personal poems:

"I know if I am/ anything at all,/ it is fern, forsythia,/ a woman who dreams/ the fiddlehead's/ unfurling,/ blesses the twin flags/ of the seed's release."

The most poignant have to do with a well-loved son's tender unfurling.  "Manhood Lights On You" ends with a powerful line of reverberating eloquence:

"Shall I tell you, touch you, or just shield my eyes?"

In addition to her previous collections, How to Enter the River and Witness, Jeanie Thompson's poems have appeared in many literary journals.  A founding editor of The Black Warrior Review, she is Executive Director of the Alabama Writers' Forum.

 

Julia Oliver
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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