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Friday, February 22, 2013

Review of Lake Effect by Christina Cook

Christina Cook in her book of poems, Lake Effect, commingles the universes of life and death onto a canvas alive with natural images painted in a thin and elegant texture reminiscent of ancient Japanese screens. The central construct in this phantasmal paradigm, a rural lake with summer cottage, pulsates with spiritual reconciliation and a stark, almost visionary, clarity. Poems throughout this book touch on the illness and death of the poet’s mother and these central poems expand into Cook’s comforting and rather stunning world view.

The poem A Night in Fenwick mixes the emotions of imminent death with a life force of surprising strength. The poet puts it this way,

…we sit on the jetty, in denial

of the diagnosis you received today.


Darkly, silence passes between us.

Crabs click over the rocks.


The tang of salt surprises our lips

as we listen to the day’s last waves


rattle oarlocks in the dories off shore.

In the morning we will accept it…


In the poem Dory, Cook elevates death into the life’s natural goal.  It becomes part of a grand bargain. Even without a paradisiacal afterlife of silver fish, it is sufficient. She begins,


Say something smooth

about a life long committed

to death.


Let the feathers fade.


Wooden dories dulled

by waves don’t want

netfuls of silver fish:

their rot-soft hulls

are enough. The callused feet

of old fishermen, enough.

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