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My Father on a Bicycle Paperback – March 15, 2005
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University.
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The first few poems are almost an introduction to her style, but I wasn't fully captured until I read Inflorescence: Fennel. In this poem she describes cooking with fennel and I had just mixed up a spice mixture with fennel seeds. While she is cooking with the fennel root, I still had a sense of the licorice flavor permeating the flavor of the fish. She describes the aroma as a prayer rising through the rainbow trout's flesh. I though the prayer image was beautiful and gave the poem a sense of reverence. Anyone who loves to cook will relate to the images in this poem.
Hiking Near Paradise was a real delight and will be for anyone who found a field mouse as a child. The Sound of a Mother Scolding Her Grown Daughter presents a scene from Orcas Island. The island is mysterious and Patricia Clark truly captures a contrasting moment in a very peaceful location. Here she feels vulnerable, longing for her mother's appreciation and understanding. She finds herself "ghostly," pretending to read a map while crying. "I'm hunched over, trying to stop my hands / from shaking, doing what I can to wash the taste / of her words from my mouth."
"Missing" was the moment where I found myself crying. I read this poem three times in a row because the feelings are quite conflicted and Patricia Clark captures a moment of time where you can no longer move forward because the past is too strong and will not yet release you. As the river moves forward, Patricia is left wondering how she can even go to the riverbank, where such a tragedy has occurred. The images are of a river moving forward and a woman caught in the whirlpool of her own emotions, in total conflict.
One of my favorite poems is the mysterious: Spirit Bundle. Here we find the poet at Lake Superior, crafting a container made from birch-bark curls and rugosa rose petals. She seems to be taking all her feelings and sending them off into the watery depths. Each object she uses to craft the small vessel seems to symbolize a part of her she is releasing into the unknown.
"Then I laid it down - the baby ache, the grief
in the night, the hard knot wrestled free
from my chest."
To me, "Grove" symbolize all the longings a woman can have to be one with nature or to return to the imaginative world of her childhood.
"on a blanket dappled by clouds, reverting
to childhood, or dream of last fall
ankle deep in leaves, when I envisioned
a dress knitted together from the delta shapes
of cottonwood leaves. Wearing it, I'd be
the trunk of a swaying thing, half-tree,
half-woman, leaf color changing day-today,
mood-to-mood, river stories of the past
soaking into me..."
Throughout the poems there is a theme of life well lived amongst the inevitable and momentary conclusions of existence. In the few poems where Patricia Clark feels deep tragedy, we feel deeply too. When she soars in the beauty of nature, we cannot help but follow her into her bliss. If you have lived in the Pacific Northwest, then you will feel the chill of a dank rainy day, take pleasure in the peaceful images of lakes and understand all to well, the danger of rivers.
I would like to say that this book inspired me to write a poem. As I turned the pages, I felt a poem emerging. It was rather magical, to feel so inspired. It was as if Patricia Clark's depth of emotion awoke my own sense of longing.
~The Rebecca Review