An award-winning poet’s day-book of poems, where both bounty and loss are tenderly assigned value.
Marlene Cookshaw, in her first collection of poetry in more than a decade, invites her readers to partake in a long-anticipated harvest that comes in many forms. Whether she’s haying June-high grasses, relishing a neighbour’s gift of new potatoes with her husband, logging fragments of poetry she’s read in a notebook, or honouring the deaths of her parents, Cookshaw works an open field. Through this pastorale wander dogs, horses, chickens, and donkeys in counterpoint to farm labourers and long-time residents who share in her abiding connection to the land they mutually watch over and tend. The power grid may fail while every monthly expense is brought to account, but observation as careful and particular as Cookshaw’s more than weighs the seasons that it seeks to bring into balance. Each day I plan how the next will differ,
will more resemble what I want a life to be.
“These poems can confront quotidian life in plainspoken language because, like an extraordinary pencil drawing, there is so much subtle cross-hatching and shading. Cookshaw observes her mother’s death, for example, both directly and aslant, half turning away, as if unsure which is the more truthful. Mowing requires that you sit and visit for a good long while.” —Ross Leckie
How do we find a place, our own place, in the world? And once found, as Marlene Cookshaw asks, “How far from centre will stability extend?” Here is a clear view and a welcome reminder of the preciousness of the ground we stand on, the “thin shell” of the egg that holds us.