I’m taking a page from my dear friend and talented poet Cassie Pruyn and have resolved to share a poem with you here every Friday. I used to post a poem a week on my now-ancient blog, and I’ve been wanting to resurrect that practice for awhile. I found that it focused my reading, knowing I was searching for poems to share.
First up is a poem by James Allen Hall, who Jan Beatty introduced me to briefly last week at AWP in Minneapolis. Hall has two poems in the first volume of Tinderbox Poetry Journal (a journal you should read if you don’t already) — “Greenhouse” and “An American Porn Star Contemplates the Divine.” “Greenhouse” is hitting me hard right now, since I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandma, who died a few months ago. There was no one like her — she had a green thumb, and well into her 80s still did her own yard work, gardening, moving big rocks, just getting things done.
Like the best sonnets, Hall weaves sound and meaning deftly, and makes so much happen in this small space. “Her hands never lost / the mineral smell, the crocus’s rot darkening under / her thumbnails” is perfect – the diction, sounds, and that “mineral smell.” I can smell it. I think what I love most is how this poem sees “absence” as “a new life” that contains “a new death” within it. That absence — grief — can persist and grow like a living thing.