These collected verses, illustrated with the author’s own photographs, address themes of loss, grief, and memory.
Everyone endures the sadness of loss, whether it’s the death of loved ones, friendships changing, intimations of mortality, or time’s alterations. With this collection, DiMichele (In Grandma’s Shoes, 2013) aims to “share…a glimpse of how that sadness has touched me” over the last 30 years. “I trust this book will bring you peace and a knowledge that you do not grieve alone,” she writes. With these good intentions, it’s a shame that the book has such a generic greeting card feel. In “Distant Friends,” for example, composed upon the “change of a close friendship,” DiMichele writes: “Our lives have grown so distant / Our dreams so far apart / Yet always I have known / You are laced within my heart.” The iambic meter is typical of these verses, as is padding the lines out with the meaningless “so.” This meter is reinforced through end-stopped lines, giving the verse a singsong quality. As for the specific lives, dreams, and hearts of the speaker and her friend, they could be anybody’s, and this too is characteristic of the collection. The bulk of this work offers platitudes that in some cases can actually seem baffling rather than comforting, as in “Cycles,” written to parents on the death of their infant: “We watch life cycle everyday / We see it grow and fade away / … / What we must hold and not forget, / Is live each day with no regrets.” No regrets over a baby who died? The verses also suffer by employing language that was outdated a century ago: “thee,” “doth,” and “o’er.” When DiMichele makes closer, more original observations, the work displays more force: “We remember most how you liked not to be interrupted, / When you wanted someone to hear what you were saying // We have listened to you and have heard what you have said” (“A Breath in Time”). The author’s color photographs of nature are excellent, however: vivid and well composed.
While offering vibrant color photographs, this book delivers earnest, but uneven poems.