- Turnstone Press
- Initial publish date
- Oct 2022
- Canadian, Women Authors, Spirituality
Paperback / softback
- Publish Date
- Oct 2022
- List Price
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In her fourth book of poetry, Sally Ito traverses the complex channels and tributaries of a heart mapped by the ineffable pull of family and faith. In Ito's careful hands, this same heart becomes ocean and cathedral, a hallowed space in which poetic organ-song crystalizes into poems resonant with hope, love, doubt, and longing. Heart's Hydrography charts the vital ebb and flow between the personal and the divine.
About the author
Sally Ito was born in Taber, Alberta and grew up in Edmonton and the Northwest Territories. She studied at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta, and travelled on scholarship to Japan, where she translated Japanese poetry. Her first book of poems, Frogs in the Rain Barrel (Nightwood, 1995) was runner-up for the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award. Her second book, Floating Shore (Mercury Press), won the Writers Guild of Alberta Book Award for short fiction, and was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize and the City of Edmonton Book Prize. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals such as Grain, Matrix and the Capilano Review and in the anthologies Breathing Fire: Canada's New Poets and Poets 88. Ito lives in Edmonton with her husband and son.
Excerpt: Heart's Hydrography (by (author) Sally Ito)
Those meanderings of the soul, how they
spout or sputter, bubble and froth.
There is deluge and flood, and then the Sea
that undulating womb of water
in which infant me is wafting. The poet CRVG*
channels, restrains, controls the flow of
churlish waters winding its way through
the heart's time-terrain to saturate devotion's soil
with prayer-present wave-after-wave of words.
The river in me is dried up. No longer capable of melt or sorrow.
What happened to Gethsemane's tears 'Äì its salt water turned to blood?
Why are they not in me? To bring me back to that Sea
which we in spiritus sanctus once were and still wish to be?
*CRVG are the initials of seventeenth century devotional poet Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg.
The sky is uncertain, clouding over one minute,
letting the sun shine the next. It's inability to choose
is a metaphor for my own lax state of belief.
Indifference is what crucified Him,
I tell my only son, while paring an apple.
What? He says. What's indifference?
Never mind, I reply. The light through the window
has an unsettled look, and the wind is picking up,
shaking the branches of the elm. The dog raises
its head, and hears something only it can hear.
I slice the apple into quarters and give a piece to my son.
In the kitchen, a lump of dough rises
in the bread pan.
For when the hour was baroque and there was
a fearful studied symmetry in all mystical things,
and words in their place might move a heart
as players on a stage might recite their part.
Through this eye of the needle, slip your thread
of bare conviction, wettening it, not once, but twice
to pierce that hole, for stitching together the whole of you
depends on it, on this sewing of a line in time.
At unease in the world, you assemble the random array
Stones in a circle on a plain, or pitch the voice
Into tones of praise, wonder, and then dismay
At its falling apart, at its glorious unbecoming
No answers but for the questions, ants on a stick
Marching to the precipice, your longing are seeds
In search of light, that luminous centre in which
The self will die, and oblivion and bliss at last unite.
This morning on the windowsill
a spider has spun a silver thread
from the leaf tip of the paper white
all the way to the ceiling.
This morning my cousin had a baby girl whom she named Momo.
This morning the sermon was on the marvels of the natural world
and how we could not help but respond with awe,
with belief that behind all that design
was an intelligence, divine and sentient.
By supper time, the silvery thread from plant to ceiling has disappeared.
At the table, I hold the newborn Momo
while recounting the sermon to her father.
When I put my own daughter to bed that night, I notice an old notebook
sticking out from under her toy box. In it, she has written:
Memory is when you just found out something and you store it in your brain.