Thursday, December 20, 2007

In Which I Finish a Book of Poetry

I read Judith Harris' The Bad Secret in part because the author was one of the speakers at the conference and I was hoping to attend. However, I was not strong/healthy enough to attend. Still, I'm glad I read this slender volume of poems. The cover image is evocative of the mood the poems within convey--bare, stark, reflective. Each poem's image seems to either build from a previous one or leap away from any of the other poems and yet the overall emotion remains. These poems are haunting and conflicted. Childhood memories at times delightful and vicious, like a Grimm's fairy tale, are shared side by side with later revelations. If in her book Signifying Pain Harris has taken the time to show how others have used writing to help define and heal their own pyschic pain, in these poems a reader can see how Harris herself has done this by looking first at the cause and then forgiving the effect. What could have been a collection full of anger and self-righteousness becomes, instead, an honest exploration of how forgiveness and grace can grow out of these reflections.

Middle Age

Just thinking of you,
can coax my flesh alive again,
as if that leaf could shiver air . . .

I have no body,
What has earth to do with this?
I tense with pleasure,
like the black feelers kicking
inside the meadow lily’s pinkest inner dome . . .

The downed sun kisses bark;
and the buds keep coursing through bloodstreams
of the upper boughs,
too early and too late for spring.


  1. Lovely poem. I am going to have to find a copy of the collection in which it came.

  2. Nothingpetty, I hope you are able to find it. It is one of those hard to find books and I lucked out because it was lent to me. I gave a copy of it to my mother earlier this year but it took a lot for me to find it. But I'll keep an eye out and if I happen to stumble across one in a used bookstore or on ebay, I'll get it for you.