A friend suggested Crooker's book to me. Words cannot tell you how grateful I am to have this book for reading and re-reading a million times over. And let me now tell you: Get this book and read it!!!
Crooker wrote this collection as her friend Judy Krol battled cancer. Judy died in 1995. These poems are the most amazing and honest look at life in the face of death, life after loss -- a model that more people, not just poets, in our society should read about and understand. Crooker's metaphors of nature, garden, eclipses, all work to show us the continued cycle of life and death, layered together, one after the other, over and over. Neither diminishes the other. It all goes together. These are some of the most beautiful -- not sappy, not la-la, not greeting card -- but honest-to-goodness, stunningly beautiful pieces I have ever read. (And I read a LOT of poetry as the editor of this zine and press!)
It's hard to know where to start because I just want you to read the whole thing. Seriously.
First the poems as a whole collection -- or one by one -- are unforgettable. But there are also these lines, here and there, throughout the book that are just "the-end-all-be-all" (if you'll forgive my goofy way of putting it). Just one of the highlights:
Then there are the descriptions of a moment in time, like this from the poem titled "Hope"
How many times have you sat in that very window of winter sunlight? How many times have you tried to capture it? It has never been captured in my own writing, and I stand in AWE of these lines from Crooker.
This whole collection is the delicate capture of the ever-evolving process of death and dying, of grief and life after the death of a loved one. Crooker is lyrical and true to the ache we feel in the middle of grief whirling. She doesn't deny that after a death, those left grieving must go on, but they never forget -- like this from the poem "Faith"
It has been a *very* long time since I read poetry where Nature is the grounding metaphor and liked it. Normally, I get so bored with the pastoral descriptions that say nothing. I thought Emily Dickinson was the only one who could do it and actually say something to me, something that has meaning, depth, resonance, truth to it. I was wrong! Barbara Crooker does it, too!
There really and truly are not words for me to say how this collection affects and effects. So instead of fumbling here, I'm just going to share the poem "In the Late Summer Garden" with you and say, once again, *buy this book and read it!!!*