Back in February I had the good sense to attend a writers' conference offered on campus --- where I met many talented writers, bought too many of their books, and patiently began to nibble them in small, savory bites.
Except for Jennifer Horne's Bottle Tree. I devoured it that first weekend.
Which is interesting, because --- Horne being the only poet at the conference --- I expected to enjoy her the least. That sounds insulting, but up until that weekend most of my exposure had been to the big dogs --- Keats, Yeats, Frost, etc. You know, the poetry that demands "work, work, work to understand me." I had the preconceived notion that Horne's would be much of the same.
But then she read her first poem, and I was spellbound. I didn't know poetry could be like this! I remember thinking, I want to write like this someday. After hearing her speak, I wanted more. After finishing her book, I wanted more. Horne had given me the gift of poetic sustenance, when up until then I didn't know I was starving!
Two months later I'm a regular in front of the single shelf at my local chain bookstore, picking up Alice Walker and Billy Collins. Thanks to Jennifer Horne I'm at ease with my pursuit of writing poetry, understanding that fancy words and complicated styles don't make a great poem. An open mind, a gift of words, and a sense of story-telling make a great poem. At least it does in Bottle Tree.
With the author's permission, I've presented one of my favorites from the collection. Please visit Jennifer Horne's blog and/or click here to purchase a copy for yourself. Trust me, you'll want more.
Monday Morning with Household Chores
Surprised into tears by an old song.
It's my mother, not a lover, I miss.
How she sang along happily. With abandon.
The words soothed her. Lifted her, too.
I stop in the middle of mopping the kitchen floor.
Nothing to do but sit down on the steps.
Let the tears have their way.
It's my solitude I weep for.
The never-again of it.
Changeable weather. A sweet old song.
Me aging with all these questions.
She not there to ask.
Isn't every motherless girl the same?
Still expecting her phone call.
Even after however-many years.
Mopping's regular rhythm.
Lemon oil on wooden chest.
Honor her with frangipani candles at Christmas.
Sing with abandon. Abandon. Abandon.