Saturday, July 27, 2013
Glory By Linda M. Fischer
By Linda M. Fischer
Finishing Line Press
Review by Dennis Daly
“Let my voice mingle and drift where it may,” says Linda M. Fischer in her new poetry collection entitled Glory. Well, it turns out that her words drifted over the environs of Somerville Massachusetts and into the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square where Fischer’s chapbook was thrust into my hands by the renowned and bearded Bringer-of-Books.
The collection’s opening poem, Memorial Day Weekend sets out in loving detail the author’s relationship with her mother, her father, and her mother’s garden. Along the way Fischer establishes her bona fides as a nature writer with her apt descriptions, her sensory meditations, and her magical memories. Here is a telling section of that poem,
As I clear away dead stalks, reworking
a weed-blown croft until I can feel its bones,
I think of the gift from my father—a garden to tend—
at five, the scent of stewardship no less sweet
than tips of daffodils and narcissus reaching for the sun.
He contrived the borders that were to limn my world…
Later in the same poem Fischer lives in the moment which she directs according to her own will. Future considerations like ownership are beside the point. The poet explains,
…What I have begun
for her I do as much for myself, to compass
what is possible in the time we have left to us.
She talks about the gardens “enhancing the value
of the property,” glossing over its inevitable sale.
I obsess about the perfect juxtaposition of purple
coneflower with globe thistle…
What’s important to Fischer is not merely the seasons or the anticipation of future blooms, but the memories which fuel her anticipation. Unlike Lot’s wife, she’s not one to look back, her memories are enough. In her poem Leaving she exults,
…I learned to rake—
a seasonal reckoning on the heels of adolescence—
piling up memories to last a lifetime
within a span of only ten years.
when I struck out on my own I never
The poet’s green thumb extends beyond plant life to garden implements in her poem The Benches. She refurbishes two cracked and moldered benches from her mother’s garden. These benches had aged just as her mother had. In one sense it was part of her mother that was being brought back. Fischer describes the results,
…by the time
they fell to me who would imagine them rising
like a pair of resplendent phoenixes—new
red oak burnished in urethane, ironwork
powder-coated in its original color, pieces
fitted with identical nuts and bolts—so by
now I can almost credit The Resurrection.
The poem Frankly Ferns charms with its sexually suggestive language and witty puns. Apparently even the plant industry has caught on and markets the various types of ferns coyly. Consider this stanza,
Now, here’s a tempting number—hart’s tongue,
something of a braggart: a hardy “evergreen terrestrial”
tagged as perennially “fresh and erect.” Bearing
little resemblance to its brethren, it reflects a soupcon
of impertinence, likely, I think, to insinuate itself
into any social situation—its abundant foliage
“neatly puckered” as if it had every expectation of getting
a big sloppy kiss. Who could resist?
This poet not only looks at nature in her gardens closely, she also looks at herself looking. The results can be pretty funny. In Cheating the Deer Fischer’s persona dreams a veritable Garden of Eden with sensual stimulations of lilac scent, wayward breezes, diamond showers, and a rainbow of iris. She envisions Monet’s gardens spilling into place. Then the villainous intruding deer nips her beautiful buds. The plot thickens,
thieves, they slip in from the woods to browse,
their stealth footfalls rumored in the soft earth.
She may dream of her iris emerging from tight
cocoons like butterflies on the wing; foxglove
advancing like an armed battalion, lances held
aloft; the peonies swelling like gaudy balloons…
and well she may dream, among other things,
of dressed venison with a nice Bordelaise and fries.
The last two lines neatly transform the poet-gardener into Hannibal Lector.
Fischer’s poem Hubris deals with mankind’s attempt to control his environment. The poet sets up another humorous situation when she goes to war against weedy grass. On her hands and knees she pulls tufts of it out. Her daughter catches her in the act. Even tiny lawns are afflicted by this lighter variety of invading grass. Trust me. I know. Here is a description of her battle plan,
Doggedly she stalks outlying tufts
like a huntress, shrugging off the likelihood
that someone will think her daft—half
stooped, peering interminably over her toes.
She tries to justify expunging one
unruly invader from a host of others,
and can’t—the thrust sufficient unto itself.
The title poem and the last piece in this collection celebrates morning and rebirth and hope and in a sense immortality. The poet gives a pantheistic view of the waking world. She becomes the fox that coughs in the distant wood, the hawk that feels the earth’s living breath and the snake coiling in the sun. As she observes she becomes part of the rhythm of life and with her human awareness she exults in the music and beauty of it all. She sums it up this way,
… I will cultivate my garden
and I will move to the rhythms of the living earth.
I will listen to my heart and I will sing
when I cannot help but sing, and glory—
glory!—for this is the morning of my life,
and this is the way the day begins.
Read this lyrical wondrous collection first thing in the morning. It will make your day.