A widower presents a poetry collection about grief and love.
The first section of this emotional book, “Memories,” explores the “dusty, not-quite-living museum of our lives.” Some of its recollections are quite recent, such as in “Love in the Time of Corona,” which finds the speaker partnerless, sheltering in place, and eating frozen vegetables during the Covid-19 pandemic. In another poem, he compares navigating love to crawling through an electric fence: “You finally learn how it feels / to be knocked silly with almost no warning, / and find yourself lying, alone, on your back, / stupefied.” The second section, “Griefs and Losses,” centers on themes of mortality as the speaker revisits the end of his wife’s life and wonders what his own posthumous legacy will be. The final “Turning Points” section contemplates the “absurd time-travel odyssey” of life in general and the arbitrary ways of nature, weather, and death. The author ends with a meditation on his unknown future, which he imagines as a mix of beautiful experiences and temporary happiness. Considering it all, though, he concludes that it’s appropriate to “Rejoice.” Stanfield’s observations on love and loss are authentic and insightful. Regarding dating disappointment, for example, a speaker asks, “Which is wrong: / The reality or the expectations?” Of enduring relationships, he wisely muses, “No vulnerability without trust, / no trust without truth / no truth in a tight grip.” He’s also delicately honest about death; a speaker recalls how, in the moments after his wife died, he was “amazed at the quiet / and stillness the soul leaves behind.” The poet’s descriptions of physical places are also evocative, as when the moon paints “a wrinkled, twinkled streak / on darkened waves.” However, a couple of longer poems (“Lenny” and “Racing the Sun to Kankakee”) feel out of place among the shorter, more intimate missives.
A lovely, relatable set of poems for the heartbroken and helpless romantics.