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New Tracks, Night Falling Paperback – February 5, 2009
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"These are documents, anecdotes, testimonies of a mind alert to subtle textures, a mind that is eager, willing, confident that significance should be witnessed in every detail."
Leslie Leyla Fields
"Yes, night falls in these poems, I am glad to say. But we're in the company of a bold woman with a stout flashlight — who somehow, wondrously, reveals a path through the wood thats as brilliant in the dark as it is in the light. I think I would follow Jeanne Murray Walker anywhere."
"Good poems are fresh ways of seeing. Here's Adam, quickly disillusioned with Eve for naming the yak the yak and singing off-key, yet learning to love what he's been given.' The Nativity scene, familiar to millions as the Silent Night,' is here for Mary the bleeding of the Infinite into that barn . . . as God came ripping through.' Such poems supply the faith-deep, myth-deep underpinnings for the book's rich sense of the ordinary and the now: grief for a friend who died, a child's hands, a bee, driving behind a sixteen-wheeler, rain, hearing the cry of a bird with the sky / caught in its throat.' Jeanne Murray Walker leaves her readers with the feeling of enormous power held in reserve only by the true instincts of a superb artist. This is her finest book."
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It is thus not surprising to find many poems in the volume on the theme of redemption and its physical expression, resurrection. In "The Failing Student," she picks her way through "a whole vocabulary / of wildflowers and thorns" to offer grace to the academically reprobate. In "Little Blessing for my Floater," she give thanks for the flaw in her eyesight that reminds her of her own dependence on God's grace. One of the most striking of such poems is "Leaving the Planetarium," in which she transforms her small child's fear and tears at the new knowledge that the world will someday end into a prophecy that not only looks forward to the glory of a renewed creation but that also looks back from the standpoint of that glory to redeem this world now as "the place where, long ago, / we first learned how to love.Read more ›
The stranger appears out of nowhere and goes nowhere beside. You divert attention from a startled feeling inside to a little curiosity about the stranger. What's the stranger doing about now that he's out of sight? Is he thinking about me, even as I think of him?
"Snow drifted over him as he dozed in the cold breezeway
in his Naugahyde recliner. From here
he looked like a character sealed in a snow globe
representing one way a man could freeze to death.
On days I phoned him, I imagined him
brushing snow off, rising like a great walrus
to shuffle inside the kitchen and pick up."
'Elegy: Lloyd Aderhold, d. September 12, 2001' (p.4)
Jeanne Murray Walker places this poem near the top of her first section named 'Separations,' in this 2009 book of collected poems. Walker is a prolific and engaging poet,essayist, and playwright. She dedicates the poem to her "tall bachelor uncle," who spent the day prior glued to TV. Had he seen a stranger?
Back to the stranger--Is this lane the same lane of fresh snow I have walked before. On another late night walk "you" were rattled by two fiery infernos on Manhattan's south side. Her uncle named Lloyd Aderhold, the "object" of this poem, is seated before the spectacle that turned every "you" on September 11th upside down like flakes inside a snow globe scatter an isolated "I" and "he."
The sudden emergence of "you" in the third stanza confuses subject and object, so keenly distributed by "him" and "me" up above. Whose heart breaks after "we flew to bury him?Read more ›