The Ragged Cedar
By Linda Opyr
Here is a life beautifully remembered, as is the tradition of, but not always the promise fulfilled by, America poetry. In an earlier time, Words-worth said poetry was recollection in tranquility. We are free of the demands of his more formal time, but we still can allow ourselves to recollect. Linda Opyr’s memories are not always tranquil, but they are exceedingly important. There are, of course, other poetic schools of thought. For starters, much of Europe, if not some of our own neoclassicists, still think poems should be at least formal, if not abstract and grand. One Serbian poet I know complained, You Americans think you can make a poem out of any little detail in your lives. Yes, exactly. Linda Opyr recalls moments so spe-cifically that I cringe when I read them. I, too, am ashamed, as in Linda s Learning to Read, that I wanted to be good. And I wasn t. I, too, am stunned that I have had to carry these [hurtful] words, unable to finally forgive myself. Linda helps us all by Forgiving. Indeed, Linda does what is best in America poetry she makes her personal stories universal, painting them like vivid portraits and land-scapes. I am grateful for her imagery in You Must Tell Them This:
When darkness spilled from a star-less night
I stood with the spruce, waited for dawn.
And when the cold fell from a distant moon
I sat by the fire, heard it tell of ice crack-ing
birches snapped in the fist of frost.
I am proud of her humanity and the gift she wishes to give us in the opening poem, The Beg-ging Bowl:
All I can do is help you
to keep what you keep closer
in the light of something
more than light.
I am gladdened by her well-tuned ear which sings out its word music in poems, as in Before I was Afraid:
I saw the moon
and not the darkness.
It spoke to me. Oh, it said.
Oh, Oh, Oh.
And I did not see the blackness
snaking through the trees and under the fence
and over the hill between the stars.
Here is a collection we can relate to, as surely as we, ourselves, have wanted to know which were the promises not to be broken. As you read this from cover to cover, you will have witnessed the weave of an American fabric one that clothes us warmly, not just in Linda s personal experiences, but in all the images of our own humanity.
-Dr. David B. Axelrod
Publisher: Writers Ink Press; First edition (March 20, 2012)
Paperback: 60 pages